Sharks captain Keegan Daniel says his team won’t let an opportunity to host the Currie Cup Final slip through their fingers this weekend.
The Durban side play host to the Blue Bulls in Saturday’s semifinal after finishing the regular season at the top of the table.
The Sharks, who had failed to secure back-to-back victories at the half-way point of the campaign, pipped the defending champion Golden Lions to pole position thanks to four consecutive victories at the business end of the competition.
Armed with newfound consistency and momentum, the Daniel-led Sharks want to ensure that their hard work is not undone by the Blue Bulls on Saturday.
"There is plenty of motivation for this game," said Daniel. "We’ve spent the last ten weeks getting to this position, we’ve done pretty well to end top of the log and we have a home semi and the opportunity to host the final.
"There is massive motivation for the guys who have come back from the Boks and for the guys who have been here for the last ten weeks for all the hard work that’s been done. The carrot is out there and we have the opportunity to go and grab it if we want it."
Daniel said they have great spirit in the camp, which he believes has played a vital role in their success and would remain strong regardless of possible changes to the match-day side.
"It is a testament to the system we have here," Daniel said in reference to the close-knit nature of the squad.
"Many of the players have been here for a while, they’ve come through the system, and a lot of them have put their hands up, they’ve showed maturity.
"But now you reach the critical, tricky stage of getting the Springboks back and it’s about managing them and fitting them back in to what we are trying to do."
Daniel said they expect to face a physical and highly motivated Blue Bulls side. "The Bulls spoke about giving themselves a chance of playing in the semis and now they’ve reached that position. It’s going to be a typical Sharks-Bulls clash, super-physical.
"At the end of the day, it’s won upfront and we don’t expect anything less than what they will offer from a physicality point of view."
He said that negating the Big Bulls’ clinical line-out play and strong driving mauls will be key victory at Kings Park.
"We had two or three tries conceded through driving lineouts in the beginning of the competition, it was an area of concern because teams were targeting us there, but we put a lot of work into defending drives and getting more organised, planning different scenarios and ways of countering that.
"The Bulls do have a strong line-out, two Springbok locks and if Steven Sykes isn’t fit then they’ll come up against two of our young guys who have showed a lot of experience and gained lots of experience this year.
"So we will come up with certain plans to try and win clean line-out ball as well as ways to disrupt them because traditionally they are a strong driving team."
Daniel added that the visitors are far from the one-dimensional team they have often been labelled and assured the Sharks are prepared to be tested in all departments.
"They have worked on being more expansive over the last couple years," he said. "They were more of a kicking team but they have the ability to attack from anywhere if they want to.
"They will be pretty clinical, they have their Boks back, the set-piece is vital for them. Their kicking game and aerial game is something they pride themselves on and we will need to look after them and plan measures to counter that."