As if a Springbok-laden Sharks team is not tough enough already, an approaching cold front is set to make it decidedly more unpleasant for Western Province.
Both WP and the Sharks will look to bounce back from disappointing losses last week when they go head-to-head at Newlands on Friday.
But the cold front, with its typical Cape Town winter's storm, will mean some serious tactical adjustments for both teams.
Province forwards coach Matt Proudfoot admitted that "playing the right rugby" is going to be important if the home team is to get back on a winning track.
"We have to be prudent about the weather that is going to be prevailing during the game," he said about reports that up to 20mm of rain is expected to fall from about 17.00 through till 21.00 when the game is completed.
"If it [the rain storm] does come through during that time, we will have to adapt during the game," Proudfoot told this website in an interview.
"For one, playing in the right areas is important. Secondly, dominating the tackle situation is just as vital - wether we are carrying ball or the Sharks are carrying the ball.
"The third one is something we have been doing well, even in the Cheetahs game, is forcing them to tackle.
"I feel [that] forcing the Sharks to tackle in the right areas - those aspects will need to be done well tomorrow [Friday] for us to be in the contest."
Proudfoot admitted that the set pieces are a cause for concern, with the absence of a number of senior Springboks missing from the pack just a small part of the problem.
"Personnel does play a role, but we are setting high standards for our players and they just have to achieve it," Proudfoot said, adding: "There's been enough excuses and enough time for the guys to familiarise themselves with the system.
"Now is about, especially at line-out time, for the guys to pick the right options and making it a lot easier for the throwers.
"At scrum time, basically the system is good, the speed of engagement is good. Now it is down to the props to dominate the hit.
"There has been enough talk about it, we are well versed in the system, and it is now time that the guys start performing in those roles."
Then there are a Sharks team determined to bounce back from their own disappointing loss last week.
"That side has internationals right the way through it, but we know what our plan is," the WP coach said of a Sharks team that has been boosted by the return of players like Ryan Kankowski, Charl McLeod, Pat Lambie, Odwa Ndungane and Lwazi Mvovo.
Proudfoot said Province have a "good" plan to counter the Sharks' strengths.
"We are playing almost to our strengths and if we do it well tomorrow [Friday] we can put them under pressure.
"They are a different challenge to the sides we have played so far.
"The Bulls tried to overpower us and the Cheetahs attacked our set phases very heavily.
"You know the Sharks are going to want to carry a lot of ball at you, look to turn you over and score from counter-attacks.
"We know the plan, but have to execute very well and be forceful at first phase ... in the [expected] conditions tomorrow - if we can do that it will be good."
By Jan de Koning
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