Sharks on selection tight-rope meeting Lions in Super Rugby Unlocked

09 October 2020 - 10:59 By Khanyiso Tshwaku
Skumbuzo Notshe of the Sharks celebrates a try during the round five Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Sharks at Suncorp Stadium on February 29, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia.
Skumbuzo Notshe of the Sharks celebrates a try during the round five Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Sharks at Suncorp Stadium on February 29, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia.
Image: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Super Rugby Unlocked‚ which starts on Friday with the Sharks hosting the Lions at Kings Park‚ has more than just results attached to it.

With the Rugby Championships starting on November 7‚ there’s every likelihood that most‚ if not all franchises will lose their Springboks.

The Sharks are no different and the tournament that stretches until December 12 means teams will have to dig deep into their depth stocks to have sustainable campaigns.

Sharks coach Sean Everitt‚ who picked a mixed side in anticipation of losing some of his key players for the Australia-held tournament‚ said they’ve got a selection tight-rope they need to navigate with extreme care.

“That’s determined by who’s selected for the Springboks‚ but that juncture is a challenging one‚ but we feel we have enough depth to carry us through even though they will be younger‚” Everitt said.

“Also‚ the state that we’ll be left in will also be determined by whether Rassie will pick the overseas Springboks to play in the Rugby Championship.

“If he goes with local guys‚ it’s going to be exciting times for us. That’ll also give our youngsters an opportunity at senior level. It’s tough‚ but it’s also an exciting time and an opportunity to develop players to prepare them for future international competition.”

While the Sharks open the tournament on Friday‚ the Cheetahs will be hosting the Pumas while the Bulls face the Griquas at Loftus Versfeld.

The tournament will be the first post-Covid-19 domestic competition proper and its running‚ until January 23‚ will give a fair indication how rugby will function as a summer sport.

South Africa’s four Super Rugby franchises have migrated north‚ something that’ll necessitate a change in the world rugby calendar. It could also force a tactical change‚ but Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup that follows after it will give South African teams enough adapting time.

From an adapting perspective‚ that’s also on Everitt’s mind as the Sharks have to take lessons from SuperFan Saturday where they were bullied by the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

“In that Bulls game‚ we tried a few combinations. We had two young loose-forwards in that game and they went pretty well‚” Everitt said.

“We also played what we could call our first team for 40 to 50 minutes and the youngsters finished the game very well. That showed us the depth we have‚ but this Lions game is going to be different.

“We’ve had time to reflect on that Lions game and learn from our mistakes so what’s going to be seen on Friday is an energised‚ enthusiastic and well-prepared Sharks team.”

Super Rugby Unlocked -

Friday:

Sharks v Lions (Kings Park 7.05pm)]

Saturday:

Cheetahs v Pumas (Free State Stadium‚ 4.30pm)

Bulls v Griquas (Loftus Versfeld‚ 7pm)

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