Eighthman and sometime captain Phepsi Buthelezi knows that as a leading player for the franchise he is a seller of the Sharks brand and he says the team are eager to showcase their true capabilities when the United Rugby Championship resumes with a derby clash against the Lions in Durban on Friday night.
The Sharks have certainly made a superb start to the Champions Cup, with victories over Harlequins and then Bordeaux-Begles in France lifting them into fourth place in Pool A. But their URC form has been less compelling – they are currently lying in 10th position after four wins and three defeats.
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“We feel we’ve been very inconsistent in the URC,” Buthelezi acknowledged. “We haven’t shown yet what we can really do and we want to make our fans proud. We’re targeting the Lions game and the next few, to get to where we want to be.
“Improving our consistency is our aim and I feel we are getting it right. But the Lions have been on a good run, they’re just off a win against Stade Francais, and we know they are on the up and up.
“I’ve been privileged to play in many South African derbies and we know it will be very physical because it means a lot to the teams. Plus we are not where we want to be on the log.
“But we are in a really good space at the moment, on a good run having won three in a row. So the mood in the camp is very good.”
Changing the process
The turnaround in the Sharks’ form has, of course, come since director of rugby Neil Powell took over the coaching reins from the axed Sean Everitt. Buthelezi said the last few weeks had seen the team re-look how they go into matches.
“The big thing has been our process during the week, changing how we go into games physically, emotionally and mentally. We feel it will give us more results and we are still carrying those changes into this week,” he said.
“The travel has been really tough. But we have embraced it and we’ve enjoyed spending time with one another. We’ve shown true spirit and taken on our challenges.
“I feel fortunate to be part of this amazing squad, with amazing coaches, and I’m just trying to work hard and be consistent as a player and a leader.
“It’s going to be a massive game against the Lions, but we have a few tricks up our sleeves.”