It’s a bit of ‘tennis’ that you see
Western Province coach Allister Coetzee says the Sharks have made striking changes to their gameplan under new Director of Rugby Brendon Venter.
The Durban side in July announced an all new management team of Venter - in the Director of Rugby role - Brad Macleod-Henderson as forwards coach and Sean Everitt as backline coach for the Currie Cup campaign.
With the shake up came the implementation of new structures and ideas, and after an early hiccup in the form of a last-minute season-opening loss to Griquas, the Sharks have won three on the trot and top the table heading into Saturday’s clash with Western Province at Newlands.
According to Coetzee, the traditionally attack-orientated Sharks have adopted a kick-first mentality that is focused on field position.
“Their gameplan is definitely different to what it has been,” Coetzee said on Monday.
“It’s almost a suffocate and strangle type of gameplan where they hardly play in their half. It’s a bit of ‘tennis’ that you see.
“It’s a Sharks team that’s got a good kicking game - that’s what we’ll be facing and we’ll have to make good decisions based on that.
“The Sharks could score from 60 metres out in the past from turnover ball. These guys will also have a look at it but I think the kicking option is first.”
Coetzee said rookie flyhalf Fred Zeilinga has been the key cog in the new approach.
“He [Zeilinga] has kicked well. If you want to play a suffocate and strangle type of gameplan you want to have someone who can kick well and he’s been pinpoint accurate into the corners and has been making good decisions,” said Coetzee.
“They scored a couple of tries from kicks [against the Blue Bulls], so it’s a very effective and efficient kicking game that they have. They vary it well; they kick contestable kicks and they kick for distance. It’s going to test our patience and we’ll need to make good decisions at the back when to have a go.
“We rely heavily on Gio’s [Aplon] experience for that. This past weekend they [the back three] made wonderful decisions but it will be a different challenge this weekend.
“They present a different kind of pressure and that’s something we’ve got to respect and not take unnecessary chances.”
Coetzee also acknowledged the threat the Sharks pose at the breakdown, saying, “They have a very good and experienced loose trio and they’re not shy to have a go, so we have to make sure we’re accurate within our breakdown systems.”
Coetzee said despite the changes in the Sharks’ play, the set pieces will remain an all-important part of the weekend’s game and that they will need to improve their line-outs after their struggles in this facet in the 31-all draw with the Golden Lions at Ellis Park last Friday.
“We dropped ourselves at the line-out. We’re disappointed in that area of the game. We scrummed really well but you have to be good in all departments against a quality pack and team like the Sharks,” said Coetzee.
“It’s going to be another tough game. Although it’s a home game for us the Sharks will play with a lot of confidence. We have our work cut out for us this weekend."