Currie Cup

Barritt: ‘Experience will count’

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Sharks centre Brad Barritt believes that experience will be the key when they face the Golden Lions in an Absa Currie Cup semi-final in Durban on Saturday.

The talented 21-year-old, who played in the side’s losing Currie Cup semi-final encounter with the Free State Cheetahs last year and a Super 14 Final this year, says those outings would ensure the team is prepared for play-off pressures that come with occasion.

The Lions missed out on the 2006 Currie Cup play-offs by a single point and fell well short of the Super 14 semi-finals this year.

“The experience of having played [in a semi-final] before makes it a bit easier this time round,” he told us.

“We weren’t at our best last time round, and we were a young side with very little experience. We still have a young side, but this time the guys know how to handle the situation.”

Barritt is one of three key players returning from injury this week.

He will be back in black, along with Sharks captain and first-choice flanker AJ Venter, as well as Namibian hooker Skipper Badenhorst.

They all started training this week and will be available for the clash on Saturday.

“AJ is hugely respected in the team and the guys really come together when he plays for the side,” Barritt said, adding that both Venter and Badenhorst brought much needed experience to the Sharks’ pack.

However it is the back-line battle that will be Barritt’s big focus this week.

“They [the Lions] play well together and are very dangerous on attack,” he said.

“We’ll have to nullify their strengths and we have to make the most of every opportunity we are given with the ball. At the moment though, our concentration is on making sure that we get our own game right.

“We’re a confident side though, and it does help a bit that we have a home semi.”

When asked about the team’s success in the Currie Cup, despite losing a large number of their first-choice players to the Springboks’ World Cup campaign, Barritt said it was all about consistency.

“The younger guys came through and showed that they have what it takes,” he said.

“We came into the competition as underdogs. I think we were written off after we lost to the Lions early on at Ellis Park [their first match], but the side held together well and we came right.”

By Gareth Green 365 Digital

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