Sun, 28 Feb 2021

  • The Sharks forwards haven't distinguished themselves well against the big teams.
  • Sharks lock Ruben van Heerden understands this and knows they need to be better against Western Province on Saturday.
  • Western Province's pack is the best in the competition, but probably the only thing that has worked for them.

The Sharks forwards have failed a number of forward examinations against the big teams this season, making their Currie Cup semi-final encounter against Western Province and their fearsome pack on Saturday an interesting prospect.

Sharks lock Ruben van Heerden would have witnessed first-hand how the Sharks pack was dismantled in Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Johannesburg in losses to the Bulls, Cheetahs and Lions.

The Western Province pack, despite its malfunctioning backline, is the most formidable of the lot. However, as the two domestic tournaments have shown, there's not much to Western Province's arsenal once their forward challenge has been met.

Van Heerden shied away from calling Western Province one-trick show ponies, but also knows that the Capetonians haven't found a second or third gear once their forward threat is met head-on.

"I wouldn't say they are one-trick ponies. Western Province have a very good side, but I think they have certain strengths that they go to and they do that really well. Whether they're one-trick ponies, I wouldn't say that, but if we take away their strong points, would they bring something else? We'll find out on Saturday," Van Heerden said.

"When you get to this level of rugby, everyone is strong, they show up and they want to play. A lot of things come down to technical matters. We've worked very hard in nullifying what gives them strength and momentum. That's the lineout, mauls and scrums. We've worked extremely hard in strengthening those areas. We have been working very hard at training and we are confident that we can do the job."

Without looking too far ahead, Van Heerden did not understate the importance of taking part in a Currie Cup final.

While the tournament has been watered down in recent years because of the absence of Springboks and the looming end of year tour, it has taken serious precedence this season.

Getting to the final isn't lost on Van Heerden, who said it would be a tremendous achievement for them to reach that stage.

"It would be extremely special. It's one of the oldest competitions in the world and that in itself makes it very special. To win a prestigious trophy like the Currie Cup would be amazing and the Currie Cup is the cornerstone of South African rugby. I can't see that changing, so for us to be in a Currie Cup final would be a tremendous achievement," Van Heerden said.

Source: News24

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