Sharks loving underdog tag

Tue, 22 Oct 2013 14:04
Large jacques botes sharks try Large sharks gather.jpg630 Large jacques botes passes ball

Veteran Sharks flank Jacques Botes says that his team is relishing their status as underdogs ahead of the Currie Cup Final at Newlands this weekend.

Veteran Sharks flank Jacques Botes says that his team is relishing their status as underdogs ahead of the Currie Cup Final at Newlands this weekend.

It is a reversal of sorts as the Sharks were considered the favourites in their home final against Western Province last year, with the Cape side going on to claim their first Currie Cup title in 11 years at Kings Park.

This time around Province are being favoured to retain their title after getting through the competition unbeaten so far, and Botes admitted that this situation suits his team down to the ground.

The experienced flank, who has more Currie Cup caps than anyone else, said that the more people that write them off the better as they look to cause an upset in Cape Town.

"It's nice to have a little bit of an underdog tag for a change," he said.

"The last few years we have been the favourites, even resounding favourites on some occasions, even though it didn't work out in our favour. Hopefully this time it will work out better."

Botes also insisted there was no mental block among the players to overcome the final hurdle after having lost the last two finals, as well as the 2012 Super Rugby Final sandwiched in between.

"We're at least getting ourselves into good positions, which a lot of other teams aren't, so we're obviously doing something right.

"We do perhaps need to learn from some of our mistakes in the past.

"I think with a new coaching staff and a new approach, it's a clean slate. So we're approaching it a little differently from some of the other finals in the past and we're excited about the game," he added.

The Sharks have given tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis and flank Jean Deysel until Wednesday to prove their fitness for the match.

Du Plessis missed the 33-22 semifinal victory over the Cheetahs with a hand injury, while Deysel was forced off early with a hamstring problem.

"There is a bit of doubt on Jean, and with Jannie we will have to see how he goes tomorrow," said coach Brad Macleod-Henderson.

"We'll select our team after that injury update."

Macleod-Henderson admitted that losing the pair would be tough on the Sharks.

"It's always a big blow to lose two Springboks like that.

"But we're very fortunate that Wiehahn Herbst did very well for us on Saturday and there's the possibility that Willem Alberts will play, so we're lucky to have such quality players," he said.

Alberts and Tendai Mtawarira were both declared fit on Monday.

Bismarck du Plessis was also available to play after a SARU judicial committee found him not guilty of stamping on Cheetahs flank Pieter Labuschagne in the semifinal.

"It's fantastic news and we were really relieved to hear it this morning," Macleod-Henderson said.

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