Sharks look to lift again for Chiefs

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018    Getty Images

There was no secret to why the Sharks had been able to achieve what no other South African side has so far managed in recent seasons.

First five-eighths Robert du Preez told South African media, "We've had some success against the New Zealand teams, but I wouldn't say we've cracked any code.

"We lift ourselves up for those games and that's been the problem for us in the local games…we haven't picked ourselves up for them."

However, the record they had managed with wins against the Blues and Highlanders, and an injury-time loss to the Hurricanes meant there were no more surprises to be unleashed against the Chiefs. (The Sharks do not play the Crusaders this year.)

"We've done well against the New Zealand teams and they'll [the Chiefs] know that."

While the Chiefs were down on experience due to injuries and All Blacks commitments, du Preez did not feel that would make them an easier target.

"Not at all. New Zealanders can put out a side with zero Super Rugby caps and they'll still be sharp.

"That's just the way they are…they churn out players.

"We can't take this game lightly at all. Whether they put out their first-choice team or their third-choice team, we've still got a job to do," he said.

Chiliboy Ralepelle, who played his 100th Super Rugby game last weekend, backed up du Preez's view when he told, "That doesn't really change things at all. The only thing that will change is that if there are 10 changes, then there will be 10 hungrier players who haven't had the opportunity to play at this level.

"That will make the game even tougher and we'll have to be even more clinical in our execution, as well as show good discipline to not give them unnecessary possession. Discipline is a key factor for us," he said.

Ralepelle started his career with the Bulls, playing 69 times for them before playing for two years in Toulouse and then returning to join the Sharks.

The Sharks had been like a second home to him.

"To run out for the Sharks for my 100th game was a very special moment. It was very emotional and when I referred back to my debut in 2006, it feels like yesterday.

"But if you'd asked me back then if I saw myself playing 100 Super Rugby games, I'd probably have said no.

"It is a dream come true and something I've worked hard to achieve. I love this game, played in a wonderful spirit, with a great bunch of brothers," he said.