Sharks hooker Craig Burden, who will earn his 50th Currie Cup cap this weekend, is expecting the Cheetahs to play a direct, confrontational style of rugby at Kings Park on Saturday.
The defending champions will be out to continue their unbeaten start to the season when they take on a strong Cheetahs outfit that will be hungry to make amends for their narrow loss to the Blue Bulls in Pretoria last week and Burden is expecting a full-frontal assault from the Men from Bloemfontein.
He commented: "The Cheetahs play a very direct style of rugby. They have Andries Strauss in the backline hammering it up, looking to give them momentum in the backline and a few exciting players, so we know what to expect and we're prepared for that.
"As a pack, we're fully aware of what we are confronted with and we know what we're capable of and we know that if we bring what we can offer to the party, we're certainly going to back ourselves," he added.
The combative hooker played down the significance of his 50th cap for the Durba-based side, and said that the team's performance this weekend was far more important.
"It's a great honour to play in my 50th Currie Cup game for the Sharks, it's a nice achievement, a bonus if you will, but I'm not going to be focusing on it for the game ahead. We have a huge task, this is a huge game and it's important to get the points, so we'll have as our major focus, putting in a good performance," he said.
Burden was full of praise for the young props that have supported him in the front row this season and explained that he was enjoying the leadership role that has been thrust upon him.
He said: "Their performance has been outstanding, judging by their performances, you wouldn't classify them as young props, the energy and enthusiasm from them was right up there, having them alongside me at each scrum was fantastic.
I have a few more caps than them and perhaps there is more responsibility on me and a leadership role, but I rely on them just as much as they rely on me in the scrum," added the Sharks hooker.
Coach John Plumtree said that while having so many players missing in a World Cup year was quite testing, he is confident that the players he has at his disposal will be able to step up.
"At the end of the day, we're backing ourselves that we can do a good job in this competition because we've worked hard on some players over the last couple of years who are playing for us now, this is their opportunity to step up and they’re enjoying the challenge at the moment. But it's only round two, we'll see how they’re going in round 10," he commented.
Plumtree is expecting the Cheetahs to vary their game this weekend and he has been focused on making sure that his team is up to the task defensively.
"They bring a lot of width to their game, but can also be blunt up the middle of the field as well. Defensively, you know you always have to be on the money against the Cheetahs. That’s something we really focused on at Monday’s training, we have to make sure that defence is the key for us," he explained.
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