In all honesty, such prospects are surely quite significantly dependant on tomorrow evening’s encounter against the Bulls at King's Park, with a positive result much-needed for more than one reason.
Considering the Sharks are taking on the current South African conference leaders, a win would once again blow open an already tightly contested local pool of competitors.
But perhaps more than that though, the Sharks just desperately need to return to winning ways after back-to-back defeats have left them in ninth position on the overall standings, and needing to play catch-up.
Gold said he was under no illusions about the hard work that was required to get their season back on track, but the Sharks mentor also emphasised that he refused to get drawn into the prevailing pall of negativity.
“This next game is obviously really important, there’s no shying away from that, but at this stage, in the situation we find ourselves, every game is important to win. Are we too far away from play-offs? Mathematically no, but we need to start winning. We haven’t lost any hope, we’re massively optimistic because I have so much faith in these players.
“They’re a great group and they’re hurting as much as anyone, and they’re driven to do well. We can only do our best, if the guys replicate this past weekend’s performance (against the Lions) and right one or two of the things we got wrong, a few system errors, we can put up a really good performance.”
Although the Sharks produced the sort of passionate performance that fans have been crying out for last weekend, they still failed to come away with a winning result, so how did Gold reflect on that result?
“It sounds like a difficult one, but the reality is, I could get consumed with the emotion of it, and all the things that have come and gone, things that are in the past and that I can do nothing about. Or I can just focus on the fact that there were elements of our game that I was happy with, that there is something to build on, and something to be positive about.
“That genuinely is my thought process, I believe in that, and that makes me want to come to work on a Monday and be positive with this group of players. We still believe that we can continue to climb the table and achieve what we want to achieve. That’s a process we need to have, I know there’s a lot of anger, emotion and criticism, but I need to block that out because I have to be there for the players, I can’t worry about the things I can’t control.”
In this regard, this week the Sharks have placed a massive focus on their defence, which has proven to be a significant problem area this season.
“I wasn’t happy with the defence at all against the Lions,” Gold commented. “We should be proud of our defensive system, but we let ourselves down in that regard. It wasn’t just the high missed tackle count, but there were also system errors, and that was very disappointing. One thing I cannot criticise is the intent and passion that we displayed on defence. It’s not like the guys didn’t want to make those tackles, they put in a brave performance, but we just have to be more accurate against the Bulls.”
In anticipation of this bruising battle, the Bulls have re-shuffled and bolstered their pack, with Adriaan Strauss, Marcel van der Merwe and Flip van der Merwe all returning to the starting line-up, while big Jacques du Plessis interestingly shifts to the flank.
Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Pieter Labuschagne, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jurgen Visser
Original source: Gold focuses on positives