The Sharks will be up for any challenge the Blue Bulls throw at them in Saturday’s Currie Cup semifinal at Kings Park in Durban, says experienced Sharks scrumhalf Michael Claassens.
Among the Sharks players, Claassens knows more than most about the pitfalls of overconfidence in a play-off game.
He was part of the Cheetahs’ 2005 side that ransacked what was then an impregnable Loftus Versfeld fortress‚ beating the Blue Bulls in the final.
"If you can’t turn up for a semifinal‚ then you shouldn’t play rugby‚" Claassens said.
"I don’t think we’ll have the same problem we had last week. Everyone will definitely be ready and there are a number of youngsters who will be taking part in their first semifinal and we’re playing at home‚ which is so much better.
"We’ve taken some lessons from the defeat on the weekend but we’re not looking too much into the game. It was a wake-up call and we’ve spoken about it.
"Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that the wake-up call didn’t take place in the semifinal. We’ve been tested before and we’ll make sure we don’t get into that position again."
The Blue Bulls will be a different proposition on Saturday even though the Sharks have seen them off twice in the round-robin stages.
Robert du Preez’s side have not had it all their own way this season with the Bulls‚ who have improved incrementally while also having the best fullback in the tournament.
Warrick Gelant has been a threat and played a role in the latter successes that have seen the Bulls move from the bottom into a semifinal position.
The Bulls have been dealing in high scores in their last three matches and Claassens said this had been noted.
"In the previous game in which we played them‚ it was wet, so it was difficult for the backs to get going. They’ve been playing well in their last few matches‚ they’ve been scoring tries and they’ve got some dangerous players out wide‚" Claassens said.