United Rugby Championship: Jaden Hendrikse says the Sharks’ focus is on defence as Springboks stars set to return

Dylan Coetzee
Jaden Hendrikse on the charge with ball in hand for the Sharks.

Springbok Jaden Hendrikse says the Sharks are looking to improve their defence whilst sticking to the DNA of the side.

Hendrikse is expected to make his first appearance for the Sharks this season alongside debutants Eben Etzebeth and Vincent Tshituka, while Springbok stars Siya Kolisi, Bongi Mbonambi and Ox Nche are also set to return in what should be a blockbuster line-up.

The scrum-half himself has grown tremendously in 2022 and has established himself at the top of the pecking order for the Springboks.

Stars hoping to slot in seamlessly

Hendrikse says the returning stars are looking to slot into the team whilst maintaining the Sharks‘ DNA in their play and structures.

“We want to play how the Sharks play – with the Sharks’ DNA,” Hendrikse said. “We want to have a big influence on the team, but also fit into the team as smoothly as possible.

“The Sharks DNA is based on transitions, we counter-attack off transition, we score a lot of tries and we defend well. We have good set-pieces.”

The Sharks won two of three games on tour, triumphing over Dragons and Zebre Parma but losing to Leinster last weekend in a high-scoring match.

The Springbok says defence has been a focal point of training after conceding eight tries to the Irish giants in Dublin.

“The main focus this week, when they (the touring team) came back, has been around defence,” he said.

“We need to get our spacing and alignment right, and also make our first-time tackles. When it comes to attack, we need to be ruthless when we come inside their 22.

“Our discipline also let us down in the second half (against Leinster) a bit. Also, our kicking game needs to be more accurate – it is a big part of our game. If we can get that right we will have a complete game.”

Glasgow present tricky challenge

The Sharks face Glasgow Warriors at home this weekend, who came off a strong 35-21 win over the Bulls last time out, and the 22-year-old is under no illusions about the challenge ahead of his side.

“What we saw from what Glasgow did, is that they matched the Bulls physically,” said Hendrikse.

“They disrupted the Bulls lineouts, while attacking the Bulls’ breakdown. Our main focus has been on ourselves, fixing what we can after what happened over the weekend … then pitching up on Saturday and playing the Sharks way.

“They are good on transition attacks – they defend well, they have a high line. They wait until you make a mistake, so that they can counter-attack.

“They play very deep, so they want you to come up and drown yourself so that they can play the short options. It will be a good challenge this weekend.”

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