Physicality and a high tempo from the Jaguares is what the Sharks are expecting and have trained for ahead of their SuperRugby clash against the tournament newcomers at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday, according to veteran wing Odwa Ndungane.
After the Sharks hammered the Kings in Port Elizabeth and the Jaguares staged a dramatic comeback to pip the Cheetahs in the opening round of matches, the KwaZulu-Natal franchise are one point ahead of the Argentinians in their conference and intend to stay ahead of their dangerous opponents.
“Watching the Jaguares in the World Cup and the Rugby Championship, and then again against the Cheetahs, it’s definitely going to be a tough game, they are physical and play at a fast tempo, they showed they like to throw the ball around last weekend.
“But that’s what we’ve been exposed to in SuperRugby. Although we beat Toulon and Toulouse on our pre-season tour and they were a good test, we knew that it wasn’t really SuperRugby level. We always knew we would have to make a step up and it will be no different this weekend. We’ll have to be really tight and not give them a sniff,” Ndungane said on Tuesday.
When they managed to get quick ball against the tenacious Kings, the Sharks were able to play some daring rugby, with Ndungane scoring twice in a typically busy-bee performance by the evergreen 35-year-old.
“To score six tries in Port Elizabeth is not easy to achieve, but it’s what we set out to do and it’s wonderful to achieve that in the first game. So there were a lot of good things we take out of that performance, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement and we’ll work hard again this week to get those things right,” Ndungane said.
Defence coach Omar Mouneimne said he was pleased the team had been tested by the hard-hitting Kings as warm-up games don’t quite have the same buzz and intensity.
“We hadn’t had physical contact for two weeks, so we needed a physical hit-out in a real game and get the nerves bled out, to feel like we’re really in the tournament. We needed real bullets fired under real pressure after two warm-up games. We were a bit messy and could have been a little more accurate. But in saying that, I think it was down to nerves. You’re not going to do things perfectly in the first game and, at half-time, the talk was about lifting the intensity, about playing at another level and to outpace and outmuscle them, and there were signs of that,” Mouneimne said.