Sharks to raise bar to Lions' level

Tue, 16 Aug 2016 21:09
Large stephan lewies h s 800

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Start from scratch and build a solid foundation for future success.

It may sound like a cliche, but it is a proven formula and one the Sharks are looking to follow.

One-time Springbok lock Stephan Lewies, at 24 one of the 'senior' players in the Sharks squad, said they can take a leaf out of the Lions' book and become a major force again.

Lewies, speaking to the media ahead of their Currie Cup Round Three encounter with the Boland Cavaliers in Wellington on Friday, said there is great excitement after a winning start to the season under new coach Robert du Preez.

Back-to-back bonus-point victories over the Pumas and Griquas have left the Sharks in a handy position in a shortened Currie Cup competition.

Some continuity from Super Rugby has contributed to their good form.

"Our motto for this season is Super Rugby standards for the Currie Cup," Lewies told the media gathering, adding that they would like to build on their Super Rugby performances.

"I think it's shown in our scrums and line-outs, both are functioning quite well," he added.

There is certainly some parallels to be drawn  between the Sharks and the Lions, beaten Super Rugby finalists this year.

Three years ago the Johannesburg-based franchise was kicked out of Super Rugby and they started from scratch, building a team and a new culture.

"In a sense," Lewies said, when asked it they are in the same boat as the Lions were in 2013, adding: "Especially after last year $when we lost a lot of big names - like Bismarck [du Plessis], Jannie [du Plessis] and Willem [Alberts].

"They are big name players and added massive value to the Sharks.

"We have to go where the Lions were a few years ago when they started building from the ground up.

"There are a lot of young players here and that's exciting. We are looking forward to it - hopefully, we can get the same structures they did."

Despite their impressive start, the Sharks are aware that a lot can change in the remaining six rounds of the Currie Cup competition.

Lewies struck a cautionary note when he pointed out that they are still a work in progress.

"It's a process, it's not something that's going to be a success overnight," he said, adding: "But [coach] Robert du Preez urges us to improve every practice and every game.

"As long as there is constant improvement, he's happy. And the players like that."

Having spent most of last year on the sidelines following surgery for a ruptured his patella tendon, he has had an uninterrupted run this year.

"It's great to be on the park for a long time, that's how you improve and I've enjoyed myself," he said.

"After the injury last year, I thought I may have to call it a day. So every time I get onto the field, it's a true blessing."

@rugby365com

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 23 February 2018
Highlanders v Blues 06h35 Dunedin
Rebels v Reds 08h45 Melbourne
Munster v Glasgow Warriors 19h00 Irish Independent Park
Dragons v Edinburgh 19h30 Rodney Parade
Leinster v Kings 19h35 RDS
Scarlets v Ulster 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
France v Italy 20h00 Paris
Sat, 24 February 2018
Sunwolves v Brumbies 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Chiefs 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Stormers 08h45 Allianz Park
Treviso v Connacht 12h00 Stadio Monigo
Lions v Jaguares 13h05 Johannesburg
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Ireland v Wales 14h15 Aviva Stadium
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 14h30 Twickenham Stoop
Bath v Sale Sharks 14h30 Recreation Ground
Gloucester v Wasps 14h30 Kingsholm
Bulls v Hurricanes 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Scotland v England 16h45 BT Murrayfield
Ospreys v Cheetahs 17h30 Liberty Stadium
Sun, 25 February 2018
Zebre v Cardiff Blues 13h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Leicester Tigers 15h30 Allianz Park
CURRIE CUP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Sharks 12 10 0 2 47
Western Province 12 7 0 5 37
Golden Lions 12 6 0 6 35
Blue Bulls 12 5 0 7 32
Free State Cheetahs 12 6 0 6 31
Pumas 12 4 0 8 27
Griquas 12 4 0 8 26