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Sharks' Claasen: If you can’t turn up for a semi‚ you shouldn’t play rugby

18 October 2017 - 12:36 By Khanyiso Tshwaku
Sharks' srumhalf Michael Claassens in action during the Currie Cup match between Tafel Lager Griquas and Cell C Sharks at Tafel Lager Park on September 15, 2017 in Kimberley, South Africa.
Sharks' srumhalf Michael Claassens in action during the Currie Cup match between Tafel Lager Griquas and Cell C Sharks at Tafel Lager Park on September 15, 2017 in Kimberley, South Africa.
Image: Louis Botha/Gallo Images

Experienced Sharks scrumhalf Michael Claassens has said they will be up for any challenge the Blue Bulls throw at them in of Saturday’s Currie Cup semifinal at King’s Park.

Of the players at the Sharks‚ Claassens knows more than most about the pitfalls of being overconfident in a playoff game.

He was part of the Cheetahs’ 2005 side that ransacked what was then an impregnable Loftus Versfeld fortress‚ beating a powerful Bulls side in the final.

“If you can’t turn up for a semifinal‚ then you shouldn’t play rugby‚” Claassens said.

“I don’t think we’ll have the same problem we had last week. Everyone will definitely be ready and there are a number of youngsters who will be taking part in their first semifinal and we’re playing at home‚ which is so much better.

“We’ve taken some lessons from the defeat on the weekend but we’re not looking too much into the game. It was a wakeup call and we’ve spoken about it.

“Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that the wakeup call didn’t take place in the semifinal. We’ve been tested before and we’ll make sure we don’t get into that position again.”

The Blue Bulls will be a different proposition on Saturday even though the Sharks have seen them off twice in the round-robin stages.

Robert du Preez’s side have not had it all their own way this season with the Bulls‚ who have improved incrementally while also having the best fullback in the tournament.

Warrick Gelant has been a threat and played a role in the latter successes that have seen the Bulls move from the bottom into the semifinal positions.

The Bulls have been dealing in high scores in their last three matches and Claassens said their improvement has been noted.

“In the previous game in which we played them‚ it was wet so it was difficult for the backs to get going.

"They’ve been playing well in their last few matches‚ they’ve been scoring tries and they’ve got some dangerous players out wide‚” Claassens said.

“Our defence has been our strong point for the better part of the season except for last week’s aberration.

"We just need to make sure we’re on top of our defence‚ work together as a team and make sure we neutralise those guys.”


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