Having departed on Saturday, the Sharks will initially base themselves in Sydney before moving on to Dunedin where they will face the Highlanders in their first tour match this Friday.
While the Sharks were travelling, the Stormers overcame the Bulls to move to the top of the SA conference, and the team from Cape Town are now nine points ahead of their coastal rivals.
With just six pool games remaining, it’s going to be extremely difficult for the Sharks to make up that deficit, or to even climb up to a play-off spot, but director of rugby Gary Gold said that this was not their immediate concern.
“For us, it’s all about just getting back to winning ways and earning some respect back. It’s not about the permutations or log standings. In some way it’s actually nice to have been written off, we’ve got nothing to lose. So now we can just go on tour, enjoy the experience, hopefully play some good rugby and get some good results. Then we can take it from there. We also have a few guys back in the mix, which is great.”
In this regard, the Sharks will have Bismarck du Plessis back from suspension this week, while JP Pietersen and Stephan Lewies will also be back in selection contention.
And after finally getting their bye after 10 straight weeks of action, Gold said the team was ready and raring to go.
“It’s been really late in the season to get a break, 10 weeks on the trot. So we needed the guys to be able to have a bit of down time, to get away from rugby and be with their families. But they’ve really come back re-energised, and they’re all really excited about the tour now.”
Gold also explained the reasoning behind their decision to initially stay in Sydney.
“We just wanted to break up the travel a bit, we knew we’d at least be able to get to Sydney relatively quickly, we can settle down and get in a few training sessions, acclimatise a bit and get over the jet lag. We’ve tried to use as much science with this decision. Then we’ll move on to Dunedin for the first Friday game.”
Original source: Plenty of work ahead for Sharks