No French connection for Sharks this pre-season
IN A radical change from their 2016 high profile warm-up matches in the South of France, the Sharks have gone for “local is lekker” in 2017 by hosting the Cheetahs in two matches in the township of Umlazi, south of Durban, next Friday.
Entrance to the match is free at the King Goodwill Zwelithini Stadium and the Sharks are hopeful they will have successful ongoing negotiations with SuperSport to screen live matches between Sharks A and Cheetahs A (5pm) and Sharks B v Cheetahs B at 7pm.
In seasons past, the Sharks have travelled abroad for warm-up matches in the UK and last year against illustrious teams such as Toulon and Toulouse, but they clearly are keeping the travelling to a minimum given that their opening two matches of the Super Rugby season are away in Australia against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on February 24 (9am) and then March 4 in Canberra on March 4 (8.45am).
The Sharks also picked up a number of injuries in the highly-charged matches against the top French sides last year, notably a serious collar bone injury to captain Patrick Lambie, and those injuries of last year might also have played a role in coach Robert du Preez choosing to have a reasonably mild build-up to the start of the Super Rugby season.
The Sharks return from Australia to host another leading Australian team, the Waratahs, on March 11.