Ruben van Heerden during a Sharks training session.
- Sharks lock Ruben van Heerden is confident they can fix the errors made in a 41-14 loss to the Bulls.
- Van Heerden believes the scoreline at Loftus flattered the Bulls, with the Durbanites having started well.
- The Sharks are bracing for the Pumas this weekend and Van Heerden says the Lowvelders should have beaten the Stormers last weekend.
Sharks lock Ruben van Heerden is confident they’ll soon hit their straps despite a heavy 41-14 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria.
The Durbanites started their Super Rugby Unlocked campaign with a narrow 19-16 home win over the Lions, but came unstuck at Loftus Versfeld over the weekend.
They also lost 49-28 to the Bulls on Super Fan Saturday last month and look a far cry from the team that dominated Super Rugby proper earlier in the year.
Van Heerden addressed reporters in Durban on Tuesday as the Sharks prepared for a trip to Nelspruit where they will duel the Pumas on Saturday.
“It was very disappointing losing to the Bulls, especially in the manner that we lost, but our coaches worked really hard on reviewing that game. They’ve identified all the errors where we fell short.
“And it’s very much fixable, so that’s what we’re working on during this week and that’s what we plan to do against the Pumas as well,” he said.
According to Van Heerden, the scoreline at Loftus this past weekend somewhat flattered the home side.
“You wouldn’t say so looking at the scoreboard last week, but if you review our game and you analyse our game deeply, then you’ll find out that the errors that we made are very much controllables. And if we can just sort out those errors, then I think we will stand ourselves in good stead going forward.
“We started really well, especially up front, we stopped their mauls really well… we came off the line, we hit them ball and all in the tackle. I think we scrummed well.
“In the first 20, 30 minutes we were firing and then somewhere during the game the momentum shifted and we just kind of lost our way. So going forward, we’re looking at keeping that same momentum for the full 80 [minutes], instead of just the first 30.”
Van Heerden stressed they would not be underestimating the Pumas, especially after the men from Mpumalanga’s narrow 43-37 loss to the Stormers last weekend.
“We know what they did against the Stormers, in my honest opinion I think they should have beaten the Stormers. So, we’re not taking it lightly and we’re going to Nelspruit with a solid plan on winning that game.
“Tactically the Pumas were outstanding (against the Stormers), they identified many flaws in the Stormers’ game and tactically they were brilliant. Unfortunately they just let it slip in the last 15 to 20 minutes. But we know they’ve got really good coaches who are going to bring a good plan against us, but we’re well-prepared I think.
“History has proven that you cannot take these so-called smaller unions lightly. The Griquas and Pumas always show up against the bigger teams and they’ve beaten the bigger teams on many occasions as well.”
Earlier in the year, the Sharks had topped the Super Rugby standings with six wins from seven before the season was halted due to Covid-19.
Van Heerden said they’ve put that part of the season behind them and were fully focused on winning the Super Rugby Unlocked trophy.
“We can’t ride that wave anymore, we did have a good Super Rugby, but things happened the way it happened and now we have this competition [to focus on]. We want to do well, we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our fans.
“It’s not about looking at the Currie Cup, the Currie Cup is not here yet. At the moment we’re playing Super Rugby Unlocked and that’s what we want to win at this stage.
“The Currie Cup is in the back of our minds, but we’re keeping it there for the moment. We know we can’t afford to lose any more log points. Now we need to win every single game if we want to stand a chance at winning Super Rugby Unlocked.”
The Super Rugby Unlocked title will go to the team atop the standings after a single round of matches, with points obtained then carried over into the Currie Cup competition.
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