Sharks to attack ‘big time’


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One of the heroes of the impregnable Sharks defense, Butch James, believes the Sharks will definitely have to improve further if they are to be Super 14 contenders in 2007. They have tackled, but now its time to dazzle with the ball in hand.

Dick Muir came to the helm of a Sharks side that had lost its sparkle. A franchise renowned for its unique style of play which featured players such as Andr’ Joubert, Henry Honiball, Jeremy Thompson, and Muir himself.

Tough, compromising, yet always fresh and imaginative.

Butch James is cut from that Sharks cloth. For years he has been fabled and maligned, depending on your allegiances, for his aggressive and confrontational style of defense. What has been forgotten is his ability to pivot his backline offensively.

And so it is for the Sharks this year. Two rounds of rock solid defence and brutality at the set plays and the breakdown, have many naming the Sharks as tournament favourites. Many believe the introduction of such structure to the Sharks game will give them the edge.

James, however, does not put it down so much to defensive structure, as to the spirit in the Sharks camp.

“What has really been impressive so far is our scramble defense,” Butch noted.

“And that is not about systems at all.

“It may sound clich’d, but our defense shows the team spirit we currently have.

“If a player misses a tackle, then there is always somebody else to cover.”

But Butch does not believe that defense is enough to win the Super 14.

“We will need to improve. All we have done so far is tackle, and we have done it well. But our focus now is going to be our attack.”

The Sharks are currently preparing for Saturday’s clash against the Highlanders. The Sharks fly-half says that the side are eager to go all out to get another win before they take a rest in their bye in Round Four. And how they aim to do that is through a vast improvement in their try-scoring ability.

“Three out of three would be perfect. And this week we are going big time on attack.”

After a fantastic showing at Twickenham last year against England, and two fine performances so far in the Super 14, James may just be peaking perfectly for the World Cup at the end of the season.

“My form has been alright.

“I’m feeling good, and it just helps when you are surrounded by good players.”

The James and Trevor Halstead midfield combination was dynamic at one stage, and a new partnership with young gun Brad Barritt is emerging as one that might be too difficult to ignore come Springbok selection time.

“I have been watching Brad since he was playing at school, and it has been awesome playing alongside him.

“He is a tough bugger and always gets stuck in.”

If the Sharks do add an attacking arsenal to their current hard-as-nails defense, then one would have to say the Durban franchise, which has been starved of trophies in recent years, may just be the first South African team to go all the way since Super rugby went professional in 1996.

“We always get that feeling at the beginning of the season that this is our year. All sides have that. And after two victories we still have that feeling.

“We have got a great draw, and this year may just be our best chance.”

By Chris Waldburger 365 Digital

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