Van der Walt warns Sharks over ‘stronger’ Lions
SHARKS looseforward Philip van der Walt believes the Lions will be even stronger than they have been in recent Super Rugby seasons and the Durbanites must brace themselves for a major battle in their opening match.
The Sharks kick off their Super Rugby season with a trip to Johannesburg where they will play the Lions at Ellis Park Stadium at 5.15 pm on Saturday.
For the past two seasons, the Lions have been South Africa’s best team in the competition, as they have been in backtoback finals.
At the beginning of the week, Sharks assistant coach Dick Muir said they didn’t really know what to expect from the runnersup as they didn’t have much information about the Lions’ preseason activities.
Van der Walt shared the same view yesterday, but said the Johannesburgbased outfit were likely to continue doing well in the new season.
“I think they will probably be even sharper. Teams always work hard with all the time they had in the preseason to sharpen up and tweak things. I think they will try and build on the successes they have had in their attacking play,” he said. Obviously, they have been doing well, they had two finals in a row, so they will probably be motivated to get that ‘third time lucky’ and actually win it. So, I don’t think they are going to change much.”
Van der Walt, who missed a huge chunk of the Sharks’ preseason as he was involved in the Japanese league, said he’s looking forward to the Super Rugby season because he hoped to see his side show improvement from the previous campaign. “It’s a new opportunity for us to improve, it was the second year running last year that we reached the quarterfinals but didn’t make it any further.
“I think we owe it to the Sharks as a brand to have a good season. You know we all want to play in a final, we all want to win and it’s been a long time coming now,” he said.
“For me as well, it’s always rewarding if I can contribute to a team’s success, so I am very excited and I think we have a team this year to be able to achieve that,” he added.