Ian Foster isn’t concerned that his side haven’t seen much footage of the Sharks’ new flyhalf, Steve Meyer.
Although Ruan Pienaar is likely to be fit for selection after undergoing knee surgery in December, Meyer is set to start at 10 ahead of Monty Dumond, with Pienaar eased in off the bench. The Chiefs coach admitted his side doesn’t know much about Meyer, and in all honesty, neither do the Sharks.
He was part of their Currie Cup squad in 2006, but he’s yet to make his Super 14 debut.
If John Plumtree does select Meyer ahead of Dumond it will be the right call based on his 30-minute showing against the Stormers in Cape Town. Although that was enough to show he’s got more potential than Dumond, it doesn’t prove his aptitude for Super Rugby. Only a full season will give a clearer indication whether Meyer can be the Sharks’ first long-term flyhalf since Butch James left in 2007.
Although Meyer has won a couple of Man of the Match awards in the Heineken Cup in his time with Perpignan, Foster said they hadn’t tried to get any video clips of him in action due to the different style of rugby up north.
‘To be honest, we haven’t see much of him,’ Foster told keo.co.za. ‘You can’t waste time trying to find footage of the guy, it’s pretty pointless. I know it’s a cliche, but this early in the season, we’re just looking at our own game.
‘Next week we play the Lions and we’re not going to try get clips of Carlos [Spencer] from the UK. Even if we had footage of Meyer, it wouldn’t make much difference, as he’s now in a new environment in a new squad, so he’ll probably play differently.’
Foster is taking a similar stance with the entire Sharks team. Although many have already downplayed their chances due to a scratchy pre-season, Foster said he can only judge on what he saw last year, where the Sharks won three out of four matches in Australasia – including a win over the Chiefs – but somehow floundered at home.
‘I’m very surprised people are writing them off. I have very little to go on, except what I saw in 2009, which was pretty good for the most part. With the Bulls, they’re consistently the form South African teams who are always in play-off contention.
‘You can’t question their depth either. At the start of the season, most of their players are fit.’
The Sharks’ most notable loss in the backs is Frans Steyn, as they’ll play their first Super 14 in four years without him.
‘It’s hard to say what they lose without Frans, but he’s a very talented young man. He’s influential, and they’ve lost that utility factor. No one likes to lose quality, but thats’ the harsh reality for southern hemisphere teams.
‘We’re in the same bracket with Mils [Muliaina] and Lelia [Masaga] out of the tour. But we’ve planned not to have them, and we know if we can win without them, we’ll only get better when they return.’
Weather conditions in Durban on Saturday are forecast to be hot and humid, and the Chiefs have done the usual drills of wetting the ball in practice to try get acclimatised to the conditions.
‘You can do all those things, but it comes down to who adapts on the night. Fitness levels and concentration will be crucial.’
By Grant Ball