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These Sharks get on with the job

Thu, 20 Mar 2014 07:24
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No hype to distract Durban outfit
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Jake White has a simple philosophy that has brought him plenty of success in the past and it has been working wonders for the Sharks.

Currently on a four-match unbeaten run and sitting pretty at the top of the Super Rugby table, they head to Pretoria to take on the Bulls on Saturday for what may well be their toughest test of the season so far.

However, rather than getting caught up in the media hype that always surround these South African derbies, White has made sure his players are focussed on the job at hand.

"You can get sucked into the fact that you think it is just going to happen," he told this website, when asked about the dangers of being the tournament's pace-setters.

"Also, the danger is that people out there keep finding reasons why it can't happen.

"The media were saying, when we played the Lions, we had to be careful because the Lions were the 'speed bump'.

"The next week we played the Reds and it was: 'Be careful, because the Sharks, in their last campaign, lost in the fourth game.'

"What I am saying is that if we keep going through what everyone says and what everyone predicts, you can get sucked into listening to all the hype and thinking it is either going to happen on its own or something untoward is going to happen."

The World Cup-winning former Springbok coach said the biggest danger for his team is not preparing properly or not being focussed on the job they have to do.

He has made sure his charges have put the first four matches behind them and shifted their focus to their trip to Loftus Versfeld.

"Now it is another two weeks [when we face the Bulls and Waratahs] before we get another bye and we have to make sure the next two weeks we put as much effort in and try as hard as we can to get the next two results," White told this website.

Another reason for needing to come away from Pretoria with a win in the bag is the importance of finishing at the top of the standings at the end of the regular season.

Since the introduction of SANZAR, when the sport went professional in 1996, only one team has ever won Super Rugby after finishing outside the top two - the Crusaders in 1999, when they finished fourth. Every other winner has finished either first or second on the table.

"You want to have a home Final and a home semifinal," the Sharks Director of Rugby said, adding: "We have seen that teams that host the home Final and semifinals are the teams that win the competition.

"You are playing to win the competition and one of the ways you can guarantee yourself more than a 50 percent chance of winning it is to play in front of your home crowd.

"That is what every team is trying to do, ensure they get a home Final."

By Jan de Koning

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