Sharks

Muir sweating on Jacobs, Pietersen

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Sharks coach Dick Muir, who is looking for answers to his team’s second-half slump in the 34-18 Super 14 semi-final win over the Blues at the weekend, will be sweating over the fitness of a few injured players this week as they build-up towards the Final.

The Sharks, who will be the first South African team to host a final when they face the Bulls in Durban on Saturday, will hoped that star backs Adi Jacobs and JP Pietersen recover in time from their injury setbacks.

Jacobs, who has been a revelation as a second-half impact player this year, suffered a nasty facial gash when he came on against the Blues at the weekend.

Pietersen is struggling with a hip flexor injury.

Muir said on Sunday that he will only know on Monday what the full extent of the injuries are.

His other major headache is to find a cure for the team’s 20-minute slump early in the second half.

The Blues were leading 18-14 after 53 minutes and were making the Sharks look ponderous. In fact it appeared the Sharks’ dream season to come to an abrupt end.

But Muir sent some cool heads into the fray – Albert van den Berg, Adi Jacobs, Bob Skinstad and Bismarck du Plessis.

The tide turned and in the final quarter the Blues failed to score as the Sharks raced to victory.

But Muir is concerned that in the final his team may find it difficult to recover from such a slump, especially against a team like the Bulls who are masters of the art of piling on the pressure.

“What does concern me is that we played well for 60 minutes and we had a 20-minute dip,” Muir told this website.

“There’s different ways of handling it [the slump], but we must go an look at what cause the dip,” Muir added.

The Sharks coach and his captain John Smit admitted that despite making history – being the first South African team to host a Final – and the fact that a South African team will win a Super rugby trophy for the first time since the introduction of professionalism in 1996, they have actually won nothing yet.

“It is indeed a wonderful position to be in, to host the Final; and to play in a Final,” Muir said. “But we now have to go out and win the Final.”

Smit described his team’s victory over the Blues at the weekend as “the greatest achievement” in the 10 years he has played for the Sharks.

“It’s very, very exciting. But people only remember teams that win titles and we have to finish the job next week,” Smit said.

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital 

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