The Sharks are eager to take on board advice from Springboks defence coach Jacques Nienaber ahead of the 2020 Super Rugby season.
The Durban-based franchise are coached by Sean Everitt, who takes charge of a Super Rugby side for the first time, and he has invited the man who is expected to succeed Rassie Erasmus as Bok head coach, to analyse the Sharks structures and preparation.
Sharks coach Everitt seeks input from Boks defensive guru
Nienaber, who has worked with the Stormers and the now-defunct Cats franchise in the past, has no official role at the Sharks and is merely advising the 2019 Super Rugby quarterfinalists in their bid to break their duck in the tournament.
“Obviously, the success of the Springboks has had us looking at a few things,” coach Everitt explained from the Sharks Super Rugby training camp.
“Jacques is one of the best in the trade when it comes to defence, so we invited him to look at what we are doing.”
The Sharks are keen to play to their strengths using their youth and energy and exciting outside backs to play a high tempo game.
“We have lost a lot of players from a physicality point of view, so we want to play a high tempo game,” Everitt said after a sweaty training session in an overcast but incredibly humid Durban ahead of Saturday’s warm-up against Russia (17:00 on Kings Park b-field).
“So we worked hard on work rate and conditioning, and there are a couple of tweaks we have made on defence.”
Everitt says that the South African Super Rugby franchises need to carry forward the buoyant mood around the sport after the RWC triumph.
The Sharks will take a confidence boost from the return of World Cup winners Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am and Sbu Nkosi.
“We are a youthful squad and having guys like that come back is awesome,” the coach added.
“We take confidence out of them as to where we are at the Sharks and also as a country. There has been a lot of negativity about South African rugby over the last few years and that has now changed.
“The players have to start believing that we are the best rugby nation in the world and we must take that onto the field.”
The Sharks kick off their 2020 Super Rugby campaign with a South African derby against the Bulls at Kings Park on 31 January.