Consistency the key for Muir


Super Rugby Quick Links : Home | News | Fixtures | Super Rugby Betting | Standings |

Sharks coach Dick Muir believes his side’s advantage over the rampant Bulls will be the consistency they have kept up throughout the Super 14 tournament as the hosts prepare for the much anticipated all-South Africa Final in Durban on Saturday.


Muir was confident that his side can continue their consistent form come kick-off this weekend and has labelled the Final extravaganza as “just another Super 14 game.”

The Sharks coach certainly has the utmost respect for his South African opponents from the capital city of Pretoria, and is well aware for the massive challenge facing him and his team.

“They are certainly a side that have a lot of superstars all over the park,” said Muir at the Shark’s press conference at ABSA Stadium on Tuesday.

“The Bulls had a huge upwards curve as the tournament went on and are riding the crest of a wave at the moment.

“They have just grown in stature, where as in the past they have started off well and perhaps collapsed at crucial times. This year they started off slowly and have turned it on where it counts.

“But we have been more consistent.”

Looking at the Super 14 table, the Sharks have just one more victory to their name than the Bulls do. The Sharks have played 13 games and won 10 of them, while the Bulls have played 13 and won 9.

Only three points separate the two sides in the final standings, but Muir’s analysis is based on the Sharks performance rather than their results.

The Sharks coach realises that even though his team may not have put in a record breaking 92-3 score against opposition like the Bulls did to the Reds, the form has certainly been on song from start to finish.

So what has been the Sharks’ ingredient to success in 2007?

“The guys have realised that it is a premier competition,” said Muir.

“We have had time to plan and prepare.

“We’ve also overcome that travel bogey, which everyone thought was a problem.”

The Sharks, like the Bulls, have only suffered one loss at home during the tournament and would hope that the tiny disadvantage their visitors have from playing at home away from home could count in their favour.

However, the Bulls did get bitten 17-3 on their last swim in the ‘Shark Tank’, but their form has dramatically improved since then. So much in fact that the bookies have named the Bulls as favourites.

So does going into their home match as underdogs have an effect on Muir and his troops?

“Not really!” enthused Muir.

“For me it’s just another Super 14 game, and we’ve just come from a phase where we were always the underdogs to being favourites.

“We’ve played many games when we were favourites and come unstuck. But that’s all part of the learning curve, you got to turn up on the day and make the most of your opportunities.”

Two Sharks players that have certainly tried to make the most of their opportunities throughout the tournament, but surprisingly failed to crack the nod of South Africa coach Jake White’s training squad, were Jacques Botes and Ryan Kankowski.

However, Muir insists that his star flank and number eight’s exclusion in the Bok squad will only make them stronger and force a bigger impact from the forward duo come kick-off.

“I think they have a point to prove to show that they deserve to be there,” said Muir.

“But we did have reason to celebrate because of the sixteen players that were selected for the Springboks. Their inclusion just shows the achievements from the entire Sharks’ squad.

“We wanted to have Springboks in our side, but the guys that weren’t selected have plenty of youth on their side, so they just need to wait and bide their time.”

Though the Sharks won’t be wasting any time against a world-class line-up that boasts such big names as Springbok locks Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha as well as South Africa’s in form scrum-half Fourie du Preez and speedy winger Bryan Habana.

But Muir’s experience as a former player for the Sharks, knows that a rugby side is made up of fifteen players on the field, not just four or five.

“You can’t concentrate on one player. They have a whole host of game-breakers,” warned Muir.

“Their side is littered with world-class players. It’ll be a big ask from our guys to target those game-breakers.

“We not targeting those players at all. We just going to play the game that has brought us to the final.”

Perhaps one player that the Sharks may be all too wary about is the Bulls’ kicking extraordinaire, Derick Hougaard.

The Bulls’ pivot converted eight penalty goals to help his team literally kick the Crusaders’ backside in the Super 14 semi-final at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria last weekend.

‘He’s shown how lethal he is with the boot and probably brings back Naas Botha memories,” said Muir.

“Though he’s become so much more of a complete player.

“He’s an all round fly-half that likes to run to the ball as well. So there will be close attention paid to him.”

Hopefully this does not mean that the Sharks will give up their renowned play with ball for the more conservative approach?

“Well, we won’t be looking for the bonus point!” joked Muir.

“But seriously, it’s not our style.

“I think that’s what it’s about. It’s about doing what you’ve done all season. Our guys really enjoy their rugby and the policy is if you see an opportunity – go for it!”

The Sharks have 80 minutes to try sink their teeth into a famous South African victory. I’m positive they will do nothing less than go for it.

By Dave Morris 365 Digital 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.