We have just got to get these boys back up, they are representing South Africa now
Sharks coach John Plumtree cited the improved influence of his senior players as crucial to the team's charge into the Super Rugby Final.
The Durban team have been in sensational form at the end of the season which has seen them secure a spot in the final against the Chiefs in Hamilton next week, despite finishing the regular season in sixth position and having to play two knock-out matches away from home on different continents.
Plumtree's team showed plenty of character at Newlands to beat the table-topping Stormers, and the Kiwi coach said that their taxing and unlikely passage to the final was down to the senior players in the side taking more responsibility in the second half of the season.
He explained: "There was a period when the influence that the senior players were having on our team wasn't good enough and we were tracking at about 40 or 50 percent of what they could contribute.
"That was something that we talked about and once that grew to 80 or 90 percent then we started to play a bit better so that turned out to be a crucial meeting.
"We gathered that confidence and we grew a bit at the same time, it snowballed and I think the team just really started believing in themselves 20 to 30 percent more than when we were playing before the internationals and that was obviously crucial.
"We were playing knock-out rugby about five or six weeks ago so that hardened us and the leadership grew with that. Obviously to win in Queensland against the Reds and then come here (Cape Town) and win would be a huge task for any side so I am just really proud of the boys," added the Sharks coach.
Plumtree said that the Stormers' physicality in the tackle had forced them to adapt their game slightly, and added that he was particularly pleased with the composure his side showed under considerable pressure.
"We were hit harder tonight in the collisions and they slowed our ball down so we couldn't get our game going, and obviously winning possession was a big thing for us especially at line-out.
"That is what we expected so when they slowed our ball down and we couldn't get our game going then we sort of had to find another way to win.
"You could probably see that we got pretty tired, but so did they... so I am proud of the way the boys got over that mentally and I think the subs at the end had an important role to play," he said.
Plumtree revealed that the tactical switch he made to bring Riaan Viljoen in at fullback and shift JP Pietersen to outside centre, with Louis Ludik taking his place on the wing, had been considered all week until the decision was eventually made at the last minute.
"We brought Riaan [Viljoen] in for a longer kicking game, and I thought that the boys adjusted quite nicely to that.
"We sort of mulled over it for a good couple of days because obviously Louis [Ludik] has been on really good form at fullback, but was concerned us was that we couldn't get any yardage in Brisbane and our territory stats were poor.
"We sort of trained like that and trained the other way as well and then made the decision quite late," he said.
The Sharks coach is hopeful that none of the knocks his players picked up in the semifinal will be too serious, and also expressed hope that he will get a few backline players back ahead of the final.
"Willem [Alberts] has got something wrong with his groin, but hopefully it is just an impact injury and nothing pulled, Freddie has got ice everywhere, poor little bugger, but they will shake it off.
"We will fitness test Pat on Sunday and Paul Jordaan is looking really good," he said.
The Sharks will travel to Sydney on Sunday evening and stay there until Thursday in a bid to deal with the effects of their travels most effectively.
"It is obviously not ideal preparation going into a big final that we will be faced with in Hamilton, but we have just got to get these boys back up, they are representing South Africa now.
"We are going to Sydney first. We will fly straight from Cape Town to Joburg and from there to Sydney where we will stay until Thursday. We will fly to Auckland on Thursday and catch a bus down to Hamilton.
"After that first flight we will get the players in bed to get some sleep and do a little bit of preparation in Sydney and go to New Zealand late. It is not any spite on Hamilton by any means or New Zealand, it is just a case of resting up after a 12-hour flight and then gaining a bit of freshness before heading to New Zealand," explained Plumtree.
By Michael de Vries