Sharks are playing a winning game : Kankowski



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Ryan Kankowski who has won his second man of the match in five matches is showing why he is the incumbent Springbok Eighthman.

His performances this year have not let the Sharks down but he puts it down to a team effort that he says creates an environment where players can flourish.

‘I think the team is doing really well so it helps the individuals to do better and play their own game,’ he says on the Sharks site.

‘It’s a huge team contribution and it’s always nice to get the Man of the Match, but you can only play as well as the weakest guy in the team, and with the Sharks doing well, it can only go well for everyone in the team.’

Kankowski feels that in local SA derbies the players raise their game which explains a little as to why the Lions stood up to the Sharks so well.

‘We definitely could have played a lot better. In the first half we played really well but with the rain it kind of put a damper on things.

“The Lions did play brilliantly in the second half, they came out flying. At the end of the day we won, that’s the main thing.

‘At stages our defence was amazing,’ he said.

‘They put 10 to 15 phases together and couldn’t break through – it’s something we have worked hard on and continue to work at, we pride ourselves on our defence, it’s a big part of our game.’

There is a notable difference in his personal game which seems to have changed from a very loose role and he explained that he is working John Plumtree in order to change his style a little.

‘John Plumtree has spoken to me about getting tighter, more physical and developing that part of my game,’ he admits.

‘He’s always said I could run with the ball, but I have to develop my tighter game, which I have. Last year I had the job of the runner in the team, AJ and Jacques the loosies, but with Keegan there ‘ and he’s a brilliant runner with the ball ‘ and he’s been given the job as runner, so I am basically having to play a tighter role, but run at the same time.

‘So we can do both the jobs, perhaps just sharing the load, but it’s brilliant playing with guys like that, it’s an awesome team.’

The Sharks have only let in five tries in as many matches but they have a points difference of 36 points to the good which in comparison to the Crusaders at 141 indicating that the Sharks are winning matches by an average of just over 7 points.

The Sharks have also been criticised for not scoring enough tries as they have only picked up one bonus point (Against the Bulls) whereas the Crusaders have picked up four.

Kankowski blames the weather for that and said, ‘Look, in Durban it’s a lot harder handling the ball in the humidity,’ Ryan explained.

‘It’s not like playing in the rain where you can still throw the ball around. The ball is wet and you can still handle it, but in Durban the ball is slippery, it’s slimy, and that’s why we have tended to play more conservative rugby.

“But in the last couple of games we did try throw it around a bit and that was quite exciting.’

He also says that because it’s early in the season they have been playing to the conditions and they have adopted a style that wins games and later they will concentrate on more tries and picking up the bonus points.

‘In our eyes, a win is a win,’ he says, ‘that’s what we are playing for ‘ to win games. I think we have mixed it between playing running rugby when we can and playing tight rugby when we have to, so I think we have a good balance.

“We’re developing, with a really young team, and as the tournament goes on so we will develop further.’

As a comparison he explains that, ‘last year we also started off slowly as well, and also played fairly conservative rugby. But as soon as it starts cooling down and we go overseas and start playing in different weather conditions, so we expect things to change.’

The Sharks have the weekend off this week as they have the bye and he says that he is grateful for the rest before they go on a five match Australasian tour.

‘We’ve broken our season up into certain phases and it’s nice to get a rest now,’ he explains.

‘The first phase is mission accomplished, everyone is happy; it’s nice to get your mind off rugby, refocus and come back flying.’

If at the beginning of the season someone had said the Sharks would have 21 points and remain unbeaten after 5 matches, would they have taken it? ‘I don’t think anyone would turn that down,’ he admits.

‘It’s magical, the same as last year. We’ve really worked hard together, things are paying off and we’re only going to work harder and hopefully keep developing into a brilliant team.’


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