Super Rugby

Sharks coach Gold upbeat about NZ tour




Sharks coach Gary Gold says that they are excited about touring New Zealand as they are confident that they can surprise a few Super Rugby teams.

The Sharks have matches on tour ahead against the Blues, Highlanders (Dunedin, April 22) and Chiefs (Hamilton, April 29). They then return to Durban and host the Hurrricanes in Durban before flying to Buenos Aires to face the Jaguares.

The Sharks left South Africa after back to back losses to the Crusaders and the Lions at home and will face the Blues in Auckland this week.

Gold said that they will be looking to put the losses behind them and turn it around in New Zealand.

“The guys are upbeat, although obviously very disappointed after the weekend,” said Gold from the team’s base in NZ.

“A bit of game management against the Lions could have helped us, but at the end of the day, like a win, we can’t linger long after a loss; we have an unbelievably tough challenge ahead of us and all our focus is now on the Blues. What’s in the past is in the past.”

Gold admitted that with the way their season has turned the team is under pressure to perform but that it is no different from the pressure they’ve been under already.

“This is an exciting opportunity, we know there are people who have and who will write us off, but we are confident that we tour well and hoping we can really surprise a few people with some improved performances.”

Gold feels that the cooler weather in New Zealand could allow the Sharks to show their potential.

“The heat’s not the issue, it’s the humidity in Durban. And going to New Zealand, there’s a very good chance it’s going to rain,” said Gold on the Sharks site.

“But depending on how you see things, and if you’re an optimist – which we choose to be – then you’ll see us as having had good practice for the conditions.

“From a ball in hand perspective we should find it more comfortable to play without the humidity and slippery ball.”

Gold said that he is aware of the need to play an attacking game in New Zealand which is an area the Sharks have struggled this season as they are third last in the try scoring standings.

“It’s well-documented that the pace of the New Zealand teams is around an attacking plan with a very high skill-base, particularly around the off-loading game and using the full length of the field.

“When they do have ball in hand, we need to manage that and when we have possession, it’s for us to make the very best of it. To build the phases and put them under pressure. One thing about the New Zealand teams is that they don’t want to come out and defend, they much prefer being on the attack.”

Gold believes that under Tana Umaga, the former Hurricanes and All Black great, and now Blues coach, that this is Blues team that seem to be more settled than in recent years.

“I think the Blues have turned the corner this season, I thought they played really well against the Chiefs on the weekend and they will be very disappointed not to have won that game.

“They will be a real threat.”

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