AUDIO: Sharks expect 'aerial bombardment' from Lions
SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: There may be a bit more kicking from the Lions than usual when they host the Sharks in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Sharks' new assistant coach, former Springbok assistant coach Dick Muir, believes the Lions will target their back three in the rarified air of Johannesburg in the season opener.
That is why the experience and aerial skills of seasoned Springbok Lwazi Mvovo will come in handy at Ellis Park.
Muir admitted it will be a "difficult choice" between Mvovo and Garth April for the fullback starting berth.
"Lwazi is very good under the high ball and he has been working hard on his kicking game," Muir told a media briefing in Durban, as the Sharks stepped up their preparations for Round One.
"The balance is what is really important here - particularly [amongst] the back three," Muir added.
"I think the Lions will look to target us from a kicking perspective, which will be good."
Wing Makazola Mapimpi, an off-season recruit from the Kings and Cheetahs, is another ace up the Sharks' proverbial sleeve.
"I must say, I have been blown away by what he offers on the field," Muir said.
"He's just incredibly quick, his work rate and communication on the field have all been outstanding; he's been great."
While Muir feels there may some aerial threats from the Lions, he is well aware they are unlikely to deviate too far from the expansive game that took them to consecutive Super Rugby finals in 2016 and 2017.
"It will be much of a muchness, as far as backline strengths go, but overall we don't know where they are at in their campaign as far as their warm-up games go.
"We've had a few warm-up games already and it all comes down to what happens on Saturday. It's going to be a great challenge."
Muir said the Sharks have "good competition" in every position and it is a happy situation to be in.
"We may be short a little on the experience side, but as far as enthusiasm goes, it is great.
"It's nice to have the competition for places," he said, adding: "There is competition in every position.
"It's been very interesting and exciting to see the talent that's available and to work with a different coaching group is also stimulating.
"We've had great preparation for Super Rugby and everyone is eager to get going; we're looking forward to the opening game."