Curwin Bosch (L) and Lukhanyo Am. (Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images)
- The Sharks are bracing for another titanic clash with hot rivals, the Bulls, which will decide the Rainbow Cup SA at Kings Park this Saturday.
- The hosts require a bonus-point win and must deny the Bulls any of their own to represent South Africa in the grand final in Italy on 19 June.
- Sharks skipper Lukhanyo Am said the bonus point pressure wouldn’t distract them from playing with their usual DNA and style.
Sharks skipper Lukhanyo Am is under no illusions about how tough the task awaiting them against the Bulls at Kings Park on Saturday (18:15 kick-off).
The two teams have rekindled their hot rivalry since Jake White took over at Loftus, with the Sharks assuming the familiar, unwanted bridesmaid disposition after losing the Currie Cup final to the Bulls in January.
And unless the Sharks win handsomely in Durban, with a bonus point and deny the visitors any bonus points of their own, then the Sharks will again finish second to the sky-blue brigade.
But Am said their focus was less on chasing the coveted bonus-point win but rather sticking to their DNA, and the rest should follow.
“It will be one of those games where you mustn’t chase bonus points but rather stick to processes,” said Am on Tuesday.
“We’ll have to balance playing running and flashy rugby with being smart and tactical and playing in the right areas of the field.
“The Bulls are a very disciplined side, so we’ll have to play smart.
“It’s obviously a big game, and there’s a lot at stake, so we try to prepare as much as we can to get the win.
“I don’t think we will shy away from our DNA and our style of play, but the Bulls come with a different threat.
“We’ll try to find the balance and execute what we can.”
The Sharks will have their tails up, however, knowing that home ground has favoured them since the start of 2020, where they’ve only lost to the Stormers in more than a year.
“Local derbies are never easy, but we’re playing at home, where we’ve had a good record,” said Am.
“We’ve learnt a lot from the past defeat we got against them, so we are looking forward to playing against them this weekend.”
The Sharks were also buoyed by their 33-21 win of the Lions in Johannesburg last weekend, a rare feat on the highveld.
The victory was more impressive because they played a side bereft of many first-XV regulars such as Am, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, Ox Nche and Curwin Bosch.
The game saw Bok wing Makazole Mapimpi return from Japan with his typical vigour and impressive showings from Werner Kok at outside centre and substitute flyhalf Boeta Chamberlain.
“It proved that we have balance and depth in the squad,” Am said.
“The guys bring energy whenever the coach backs them. The boys did an amazing job to get a win away from home and giving us a chance to make it to the finals.
“The Lions game will be different to the one against the Bulls, but the guys that will come into the team will try to keep the standard up and bring energy to the group and try to get continuity from last week’s result.”