No French con­nec­tion for Sharks this pre-sea­son

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MIKE GREENAWAY

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.

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