Jake White’s early Super Rugby success with the Sharks will have its first Australian test against a Reds team looking to end a decade-long hoodoo.
Jake White’s self-proclaimed insight into Australia’s Super Rugby franchises will be put to the test for the first time this weekend when his unbeaten Sharks meet a Queensland team hungry to end their Durban hoodoo.
White left the Brumbies in surprising and controversial circumstances last year after leading the ACT outfit to the final against the Chiefs and then missing out on the Wallabies coaching job to Ewen McKenzie.
But the 2007 World Cup-winning Springbok mentor’s success has continued with the Sharks, guiding them to convincing victories over the Bulls, Hurricanes and Lions.
White told South African media this week he had an advantage coaching against Australian sides due to the knowledge he picked up in his two years with the Brumbies.
Playing a similar confrontational style which worked for the Brumbies, the Sharks will start strong favourites on Sunday morning (AEDT) to continue their decade-long dominance over the Reds in Durban.
A key for the Queensland (2-1), who last won in Durban in 2004, will be taking the influential Kings Park crowd out of play after being rattled in their last two visits.
Both times, in 2010 and 2012, the Reds played inspirationally in the first half but were unable to shut the Sharks out as they surged on the back of hostile home support.
Blazing winger Rod Davies said it was imperative the Reds start well and remain clinical throughout to silence the crowd.
“They have a ‘powerplay’ they use just after halftime and it’s something that we have to look out for,” Davies told AAP.
“They really rev up at halftime and come out and put you to the sword.
“When they get that momentum and roll on they’re a hard team to stop.”
Queensland will hope to do what White’s Brumbies did in Durban this time last year when they scored four first-half tries in a superb off-loading display and then kept their foot on the Sharks’ throats for a memorable 29-10 win.
White has made several changes to his backline with Pat Lambie overcoming illness to return to five-eighth and centre Paul Jordaan sidelined by a knee injury.
Springbok winger JP Pietersen has been rushed straight into the backline following his return from Japan where he starred alongside Berrick Barnes for the Panasonic Wild Knights.
Sharks: SP Marais, JP Pietersen, Sbura Sithole, Frans Steyn, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Cobus Reinach, Ryan Kankowski, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Anton Bresler, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Res: Kyle Cooper, Dale Chadwick, Lourens Adriaanse, Stephan Lewies, Tera Mtembu, Charl McLeod, Heimar Williams, Jaco van Tonder.