The Citizen (KZN)

Powell shrugs off favourites label

WARNING: TOO MANY GOOD TEAMS IN CHALLENGE CUP

- Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sharks director of rugby, Neil Powell, has played down any suggestion­s of them being the favourites to win the Challenge Cup this season. The side from Durban will host fellow United Rugby Championsh­ip outfit Edinburgh in a Challenge Cup quarterfin­al today at King’s Park Stadium (kick-off 1.30pm).

With a squad that’s full of Springbok internatio­nals and eight players with Rugby World Cup winners medals, there’s a general consensus that the Sharks are the favourites to win the competitio­n.

The Sharks are peaking at the moment, having won three matches in a row in all competitio­ns as they appear to have settled on their strongest team.

Despite having declared their interest in winning the Challenge Cup to qualify for next season’s Champions Cup, Sharks boss Powell is avoiding the favourites tag, saying there are still good teams left in the competitio­n.

“I still think there are some very competitiv­e teams left in this Challenge Cup. I don’t think we can say we are favourites to win the Challenge Cup if we get a win over Edinburgh,” Powell said.

“I think when you go to the play-off stages, especially the later stages of the play-offs in terms of the semifinal and finals, everybody wants to be successful and wants to win the competitio­n.

“There’s still a lot of strong teams left and I don’t think we can see ourselves as favourites if we get a win over Edinburgh this weekend,” he said.

The Sharks and Edinburgh will meet for the second time in two weeks. They last met in the URC where the Sharks put on a strong performanc­e to win 23-13.

Going into this knockout round, the Sharks will look for more of the same and also strive to polish up in the areas where they felt they lacked.

“We looked at the game we played against them two weeks ago, and we identified areas that we want to be good at.

“We know the threat they posed to us. It’s never going be an easy one when you get into the knockout games.

“It can be anybody’s game depending on who pitches up on the day,” Powell added.

 ?? Picture: Gallo Images ?? NEIL POWELL
Picture: Gallo Images NEIL POWELL

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