Sharks not afraid to ask uncomfortable questions of their New Zealand rivals
It was against the Hurricanes in Napier last year where the Sharks showed that they've got a particular taste for New Zealand flesh.
It was a game they went on to lose at the death but the message had been sent: The Sharks mean business against the New Zealand sides.
That hasn't changed this season as the Sharks again asked uncomfortable questions of their New Zealand counterparts.
They'll have to do it again on Saturday against the Hurricanes‚ who are by some distance the second best New Zealand franchise this season.
They are miles behind the log-leading Crusaders‚ whom the Sharks drew against‚ but are fair game for the Sharks.
Exciting Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am knows the Hurricanes‚ who are coached by former Sharks mentor John Plumtree‚ aren't easy beats.
However‚ this is a game both sides need to win as the pointy end of the Super Rugby season is taking its toll on the competitors.
The Hurricanes (40)‚ will want to keep their second place on the New Zealand conference intact as it scores them a home quarterfinal as the fourth-highest team.
The Sharks (33)‚ are chasing the Jaguares (36) at the top of the SA conference.
The Jaguares‚ who beat the Hurricanes in Wellington‚ have the benefit of an early game against the Reds on Saturday to solidify their position at the top.
“It's a big game and we've got a different motivation behind it. We know that if you don't pitch on the day‚ against any side‚ you'll get a hiding. We're preparing hard for this game and we know what's coming‚” Am said.
Like last year‚ the Sharks needed the tour to get their Super Rugby campaign back on track.
While they were starved of possession in their 27-17 win against the Lions this past weekend‚ the Sharks were comfortable in playing without the ball.
That's a vital skill when teams face the New Zealand sides‚ who can get frustrated when they can't convert their scoring opportunities.
Am said the tour has played a big role in them getting some sort of a groove going.
The Sharks were inconsistent and off-colour‚ especially at home‚ before they went on tour.
“The tour was a huge confidence booster for us as a team‚ on and off the field.
"We were really excited to play in front of our home crowd.
"From a preparation perspective‚ we took things on a week-by-week basis and we took it from there‚” Am said.
“The tour did us a huge favour as it got us together as a team and the Hurricanes game is going to be a bigger challenge.
"It's a game where we need to step up.”
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