Johannesburg – The recent defeat to the Cheetahs in a friendly encounter, will be the perfect tonic for the Sharks when the Durbanites restart their United Rugby Championship (URC) campaign this weekend, according to loose-forward Henco Venter.
The 40-34 defeat in Bloemfontein in the Toyota Challenge this past weekend exposed a handful of concerns for Sharks coach Sean Everitt and his team to focus on, including defensive lapses and set-piece malfunctions, but the experience will aid the team as they prepare for Welsh-outfit Scarlets on Saturday at Jonsson Kings Park (kick-off 5.30pm).
For you see, and as pointed out by the 29-year-old Venter, the Cheetahs and Scarlets might be separated by thousands of kilometres and the climes of Bloemfontein and Llanelli, but they play quite a similar brand of rugby.
“(Scarlets) rugby is a lot like the Cheetahs,” said Venter in a media briefing on Tuesday.
“They look to play a very attacking brand of rugby – bringing the backs in, bringing the forwards in and just playing off the ball. We are going to get a lot of the challenges that we got on the weekend from the Cheetahs. That’s why the Cheetahs was such a good game before hand and why the coaches decided to do it.
“They have a lot of respect for the ball,” Venter continued later on, when returning to the subject of their opposition on Saturday.
“So, with that, and their attacking brand, your cleaners must be really good. I don’t think they are always as physical as us … and they have to make other plans to counter that, the raw power. That’s why we can always learn from them and just make ourselves better.
“We know how they are on the ball and they will come for our breakdown very hard. We are prepared for that.”
The Sharks are currently 14th in the URC standings, registering just one win in the victory column to three defeats. They have a chance to rectify that record during this mini-leg of fixtures, starting with the franchise from Wales this weekend and then ending it a week later against Zebre of Italy – also at home.
Triumph this weekend, even with a bonus point, won’t propel them anywhere near the top of the charts – they could hypothetically raise as high as 11th if other results go their way – but it will be the first step to closing off the year strongly. To do that, Venter revealed earlier in the conference call that their forwards play will have to be much better than what it was against the Cheetahs.
“On the weekend our line-outs,” said Venter, “we didn’t get 100%. We all saw that it didn’t go well.
“I think every guy just made little mistakes and we cannot afford that. Everyone needs to know the details, and we will definitely address our set-pieces, our line-outs for sure; and just have more ownership that each guy must take on himself …
Those weak moments that we gave away in the Cheetahs game is definitely something we are working on during training.”
Everitt names his matchday squad for the encounter on Friday.