Sharks itch­ing to get even with the Lions

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MIKE GREENAWAY

THE Sharks’ dra­matic loss to the Lions at El­lis Park ear­lier this sea­son still ran­kles with the Dur­ban­ites and they are de­ter­mined to set the record straight in the re­turn fix­ture af­ter hav­ing lost 34-29 in a game full of con­tro­versy.

Neu­tral ob­servers would have sug­gested that the Sharks de­served to win on bal­ance of play but a se­ries of TMO de­ci­sions went against them and two tries were dis­al­lowed be­cause of mar­ginal in­fringe­ments spot­ted by the of­fi­cials in the build-up to the scores.

That game was played on April 1, but to this day the Sharks have not seen any­thing re­motely amus­ing about what tran­spired.

Sharks scrumhalf Cobus Reinach yes­ter­day stopped short of us­ing the word “re­venge” and in­stead tact­fully said: “We have been look­ing for­ward to this game for some time, es­pe­cially af­ter what hap­pened at El­lis Park where we felt we should have won, so we are def­i­nitely ex­cited about this one.”

“In that game in Johannesburg it did not work out. That is rugby. Some­times things are out of your hands but hope­fully we can put in a great per­for­mance and it will go our way this time,” the 27-year-old said.

Reinach has had his fair share of dis­ap­point­ment in re­cent years, no­tably when he was left out of the 2015 World Cup squad af­ter hav­ing been the No 1 choice scrumhalf the year be­fore.

The son of for­mer Spring­bok wing Jaco Reinach, he has played 9 Tests but has been out of favour since the 2014 sea­son. It is pos­si­ble this has some­thing to do with his de­ci­sion to move to the Northamp­ton Saints and Satur­day will be his last home game for a Sharks fran­chise he joined af­ter fin­ish­ing school at Grey Col­lege in Bloem­fontein.

He would no doubt love noth­ing more than a rous­ing team per­for­mance and a fa­mous vic­tory, although he diplo­mat­i­cally adds: “It is not about me, it is about the team. It is al­ways that way at the Sharks.”

Reinach is renowned for his com­pet­i­tive ap­proach to the game and it was al­most through clenched teeth that he ad­mit­ted that the Sharks are the underdogs for the highly an­tic­i­pated en­counter.

“The Lions are play­ing great rugby and are top of the log, so it would seem the odds are in their favour but in rugby any­thing can hap­pen on the day, and we could have taken the first one and hope­fully this week it will be our turn,” Reinach said. “But not one of us is un­der any il­lu­sions as to how tough it is go­ing to be. The Lions are very con­fi­dent and they now have a num­ber of (new) Spring­boks who will have re­turned to them full of con­fi­dence (af­ter the tri­umphant se­ries against France).”

Reinach would never ad­mit it but surely he would like to show the na­tional coach­ing staff what they are miss­ing, es­pe­cially be­cause he is play­ing against the in­cum­bent Bok No 9.

With a smile Reinach said: “Ross Cronje and I go back a long way. He was here at the Sharks in his early ca­reer. We know each other very well. Look, it is go­ing to be a lekker game and I am not go­ing to try and prove a point. I am just go­ing to try and play my best and if it is good enough, it is good enough.”

How Reinach per­forms will be in­flu­enced by what plays out in front of him in what prom­ises to be a bru­tal for­ward bat­tle.

Reinach raised his eye­brows and said: “I think we are go­ing to see fire meet­ing fire. I am ex­cited to see what hap­pens. For­tu­nately for us backs the for­wards do what they do and then we get on with mov­ing the ball. But hope­fully we can bring our phys­i­cal­ity and dom­i­nate where we can.

“This is a game where any­thing can hap­pen. We have been train­ing with high in­ten­sity and you can be sure that we will leave every­thing on the field,” the scrumhalf promised.

SWAN­SONG: Cobus Reinach is look­ing to play a key role in help­ing the Sharks gain re­venge over the Lions who con­tro­ver­sially beat them at El­lis Park on April Fool’s Day so he can have a win­ning end­ing to his ca­reer with the Durban fran­chise. He leaves to join the Northamp­ton Saints af­ter Satur­day’s match. Pic­ture: Back­pagePix

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