Sharks gear up for ‘mini-Springbok trial’

Date published: March 11 2016

Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold has labelled Saturday's Super Rugby meeting with the Stormers at Newlands a "mini-Springbok trial."

Gold also said the encounter will be packed with contests, one of course being the tactical kicking battle between Joe Pieterson and Kurt Coleman, who will start at ten in Robert du Preez's absence through injury, and could ultimately decide the game's fate.

"The ability to dominate that department, and the set-piece battle, will create opportunities," Gold told Times Live.

"Getting the balance right between when to run and when to kick will be critical, and the execution of either of those is going to be tough for us," Gold said.

"These games will also be mini- Springbok trials in many ways. In this format, we're not playing everyone at home and away, and this will be the only time we play the Stormers. It's about staking our claim and earning respect. Last year we had a bad day at Newlands – on a few fronts."

Judging by last year's clash at Newlands when the home side absolutely dominated their Durban-based counterparts up front and the superiority displayed by the Cape side in the set-piece department over the past two weeks, Sharks captain Tendai Mtwawarira knows his pack will have to be clinical at the set-pieces.

"They have a formidable pack; its history speaks for itself. And they've begun the season well. But we're looking at ourselves. We want to improve every week.

"Our last outing was a very tough one against the Jaguares and we got through that one, so we are improving," Mtawarira said.

"The Stormers have two world-class locks (Du Toit and Eben Etzebeth), but we've prepared well and [Sharks lock] Stephan Lewies is an intelligent player who knows what Pieter-Steph may know about us. So he has changed his approach accordingly. It will be tough, but I'm sure our locks are up for it."