AUDIO: Sharks 'mentally' up for another Kiwi task
SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: Sharks centre Marius Louw is full of confidence that his side have the mental capacity to outwit the Highlanders on Saturday in Durban.
Sharks currently placed fourth in the South African conference and 10th on the overall log head into Saturday's fixture under a huge amount of pressure as the tournament passed the halfway mark.
A win for the Sharks could see them propelled to seventh on the overall standings - keeping their play-off campaign on track.
But, putting one over Highlanders is easier said than done, especially after the New Zealanders dramatic 29-28 win over the Bulls at Loftus last weekend.
All Black flyhalf Lima Sopoaga kicked an 82nd-minute penalty for the win that saw the New Zealand franchise move into fifth place on the standings.
"We’ve watched some clips of them, mentally we’re well-prepared to face them this week," Louw told reporters.
"As the match gets closer, so we’ll be even better prepared for this game,"
Playing a New Zealand side is an agonising phenomenon for some teams, but for the Sharks, it appears, to enhance their tactical prowess.
Thus far the Sharks have produced their best performance against Kiwi teams, including a 63-40 win over the Blues (Round seven) before suffering a narrow 37-38 defeat to the Hurricanes.
"Playing a New Zealand side is always a big step up, they will know that we’ve performed against other New Zealand sides this season and that we played well against them. We’re expecting a very tough game,"
"I don’t think there is necessarily a target on our back,” he explained. "The New Zealand teams respect all opposition and that’s what makes them such good sides. But we know we need to step up and man up,"
Louw has warned his side to be wary of the Highlanders' lethal counter-attack and has urged the side to stay solid in defence.
"It’s about game management, we’ve controlled that well in the past, we know they are a deadly side on the counter, which is something we’ve taken note of.
"We’ll focus hard on keeping our hands on the ball and not letting them pick up scraps and punishing us with them.
"Then on defence, we’ll have to make sure of our one-on-one hits,"