Sharks boss Jake White believes Saturday’s play-off encounter with the Highlanders will be much more like Test match than a Super Rugby showcase – by Rugby 365
As a result he believes that the experience of his seasoned Springboks will be a key factor in the knock-out stages of the competition.
“The bottom line is there are no bonus points to worry about in a knock-out game, you just have to win, it doesn’t matter how,”White told a media briefing in Durban on Thursday.
“It means you can’t take too many risks.
The reality is that they”[the Highlanders] are not going to [take risks].
“It’s about being game ready, about how to get out of half. It is about when you do create opportunities, you must take them.
“In play-off rugby, you don’t get all the opportunities you might get in regular games – perhaps only two or three, and the team who reacts quickest – and takes them – wins the game.
“I don’t believe teams will run out of their 22 or try fancy chip kicks out of their 22, when they know it’s a knock-out game.”
White felt that his internationals – players like JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn, Ryan Kankowski, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Jannie du Plessis and captain Bismarck du Plessis holds the key to success.
“What excites me the most is that it’s like a Test match, it’s the way you play Test match rugby,”White told the media gathering.
“We almost have a test team, they’ve all been part of Test matches. It’s a knock-out game, so in a lot of ways we don’t have to change much about what we’ve done this season.
“Knock-out rugby is possibly the thing we’ve done consistently well throughout the season.”
Asked if the Highlanders shortage of knock-out experience could count against them, White reiterated that Test match experience does count.
“The Crusaders have 18 All Blacks in their squad and that is what counts when you get to these stages of the tournament,” the Sharks’ Director of Rugby said.
“All that experience and Test match learning at international level is taken into games.
“I take confidence out of the fact that in this group, a lot of these boys have played Test rugby. They understand what’s coming in the next couple of weeks. It’s becomes like a Test match now, you get judged on not making mistakes and then taking your chances when they come.”