'Consistency the key'
Sharks captain Keegan Daniel says that “early season consistency” will be one of their biggest targets during the early stages of Super Rugby after entering their second week of training for the new year.
The Durban franchise came up short in the competition in 2012 when they were beaten in the final. It was a match that had to be played away from home, mainly on account of the Sharks' early inconsistencies during the league phase of the competition.
“We were consistent in the fact that we made finals, but in terms of our performances we probably weren't as consistent as we would have liked,” the skipper said.
“We slipped up at times in the last competition, which put us under pressure towards the end.
“We want to be a lot more consistent in the way we perform in the games early on this season.”
A notable absentee from full training was Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis, who remains sidelined after undergoing surgery to fix ligament damage in his right knee.
However, Frans Steyn is easing his way back to full swing after missing the last three months of the year through an ankle injury.
“Frans has started running again and is doing pretty well, he's right on schedule,” Daniel said. “But Bismarck will take a bit longer, he had a big injury, but the medical team is working hard with him.”
The Sharks also have two new experienced faces in their ranks after veteran flyhalf Butch James and lock Franco van der Merwe.
Daniel felt that the pair will add huge value to a side already filled with talent.
“Butch has been around, he's been here before and will fit back in easily and will add a lot of value,” the captain added. “It's also
good to have Franco here, he will add invaluable experience to the second row.
“You know we struggled a little there in the past. He's captained the Lions and has been in the Springbok squad recently, so it's good to have someone like that in the tight five.
“You can look at any squad and say it's a great squad with good depth, but at the end of the day you've got to put it all together on the field.
“But we do have some good young players who've come through nicely and spent one or two seasons playing Currie Cup or Super Rugby. Then the likes of Butch and Franco are just going to add to that.”
John Plumtree's men play pre-campaign warm-up matches against the Leopards in Pietermaritzburg on February 8 and the Pumas in Nelspruit on February 15, before launching their Super Rugby season against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on February 23.