DURBAN – The Sharks have been lying in wait in Wellington for a home team that has been on a fortnight’s overseas travel, but coach Sean Everitt is not falling into the trap of believing the Hurricanes will be fatally jet-lagged.
Saturday’s game is the first home game for the Hurricanes, who have been on a lengthy round trip that took them to Cape Town, Buenos Aires and then back to New Zealand on Monday.
The Sharks, conversely, have been in New Zealand for a fortnight, so jet lag is a distant memory for them.
The Sharks had long ago been tipped to win this one because of the travel factor, and the feeling that this game was there for the taking grew when the Hurricanes were thumped by the Stormers, only for the Kiwis to bounce back to snatch a dramatic win against the Jaguares.
“Their season has been similar to ours in a way because they have had two performances that have been vastly different from one another,” said Everitt from Wellington, alluding to the Sharks’ arm wrestle against the bulls in Durban and their sparkling win over the Highlanders.
“They are a very good rugby team and we saw glimpses of what they could do in Buenos Aires. Their last try came off an attack that was started deep in their own 22. They are a team that likes to play at a high tempo. Not many teams come from behind to beat the Jaguares on their home field.
“We are going to have to be alert on the field, and have to keep up with them from a tempo point of view. There is a lot of talk about the Hurricanes having to travel etc but we are not taking that into consideration. We have huge respect for them regardless of the travel they have had to do.
Anyway, they are gaining time by coming back home. They will be ready by Saturday, make no mistake about that.”
Never mind the state the Hurricanes may or may not be in, the Sharks are in such good form that they remain well placed to end a four-match losing sequence against the Wellington team. In fact, Everitt reckons the 42-20 win over the Highlanders confirmed the template of how he wants the Sharks to play.
“The Highlanders game was a perfect example of how we want to play. We did get caught out defensively early in the game, but then it is always difficult to have line speed and also cover the back field.
“That we kept a clean slate in the first half was a tribute to the great courage the guys played with.
“We didn’t expect to be so far ahead at half time, I don’t think anyone does, but if those turnovers present themselves we will certainly grab them, and we showed that.
“We will also punish poor kicks, so it is not only from turnover ball that we will attack. What we saw in Dunedin is what we are working toward, only we need to do it a bit better,” the coach said.