Bulls must brace themselves for a backlash‚ says Sharks centre Esterhuizen
If Andre Esterhuizen's words are anything to go by‚ the Bulls must brace themselves for the mother of all backlashes when they face the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
It was only three weeks ago at a saturated King's Park where the Bulls mauled the Sharks 40-10 in what was a highly one-sided encounter.
The Sharks had just returned from New Zealand where they bullied the Blues and narrowly lost to the Hurricanes.
In their minds‚ they had the beating of the Bulls but things transpired differently between the four white lines in Durban.
Such is the nature of Super Rugby and the current inconsistencies bedevilling the South African conference that the Sharks go into Saturday's crunch South African derby at Loftus Versfeld on the back of a two-match winning run while the Bulls have lost two consecutive matches.
Esterhuizen‚ who has come on in leaps and bounds this season after improving his passing game‚ said the Sharks have a point to prove.
“The last game we played against them was humiliating.
"We need to go to Loftus and do to them what they did to us. We've got something to prove‚” said the Sharks centre.
“They're going to want to bounce back from their defeat but we're also not going to forget the day they played against us.
"We're going to take the confidence of this past weekend into the next game and build on that. I think if we do that‚ we could have a good weekend.”
The Sharks' performance against the Highlanders was one that made the hard-to-impress head coach Robert du Preez gush about the efficiency of his team.
It was one of the rare 80-minute displays from a Sharks side that has been flirting with mediocrity interspersed with sporadic brilliance.
Esterhuizen‚ who could be pressing for higher honours if he sharpens his decision-making‚ said they could have put the Highlanders to bed early.
He also took responsibility for his early howler when he tried to run over Highlanders winger Waisake Naholo instead of dotting the ball down.
“We left about three or four tries but we still played very good rugby.
"However‚ those three or four opportunities in another game could have cost us‚ so we have to maximise the opportunities that we get‚ like when I knocked the ball over the tryline.
"I took the wrong decision there and there were two other opportunities that I know of that we could have used better‚” Esterhuizen said.