Sharks hitting their straps – Mtembu

Date published: October 10 2014

Sharks captain and number eight Tera Mtembu believes the Durban-based side is building a head of steam at just the right time.

Sharks captain and number eight Tera Mtembu believes the Durban-based side is building a head of steam at just the right time.

As the Currie Cup campaign heads towards its climax in three weeks’ time, the Sharks – who face tabletoppers Western Province in Cape Town in their final league match on Saturday – are enjoying positive results and growing as a team ahead of the knock-out rounds.

They started the season with three successive wins before disappointingly dropping a couple of games, but the defending champions were always going to start from a low base, considering the loss of a pretty much an entire starting XV to the Springboks and overseas offers.

A new captain, a new team, a new head coach and a new style of rugby dictated by the playing talent available meant that there was virtually no continuity between the Super Rugby semi-final and the opening Currie Cup match.

Only three players who featured in the starting line-up of the semi-final against the Crusaders ran out against Griquas in the Currie Cup opener in Kimberley.

Now enjoying continuity after having a young group at the start, Mtembu believes the team is hitting their straps.

“I said at the beginning of the season, the quicker we adapt, the better we would play,” he told The Sharks’ official website.

“We’ve come along nicely and we’re starting to peak. We haven’t played our best rugby just yet. Hopefully we play well and get a positive result this weekend and pick up extra momentum going forward for the semis.”

Looking back at the Lions game last weekend, against a team higher than them on the table and with much fewer disruptions, he added that, “It was a big win for us, over a team second on the log. They’re a quality side, to get a result over them was awesome for us, and for getting momentum going forward.”

So what is the reason for the turning point in their campaign?

“It’s in our commitment and attitude,” he points out.

“We want to play, we want to score tries, but it’s that discipline and playing in the right areas, and that attitude on our defence that we’re getting right.

“I must admit, at the beginning of the season our defence was a big worry for us. But we’ve done well in the last few games.

“There is still room for improvement and we’re looking forward to the weekend.”

The improvement in their error rate has also allowed them to find the form necessary to push for a home semi, something they were unable to contemplate before the run of four undefeated matches.

“We’ve come along nicely in the last three games. Our defensive and handling errors were high, but that has improved.

“And because a team like Western Province thrive on turnovers, our execution is going to be important on the weekend.”