Sharks coach John Plumtree believes the foundation built between November and January will stand the team in good stead as they attempt to break their Super Rugby drought.
Three times runners-up in the professional era (four times if you take their 1994 Super 10 loss to Queensland into account), the Sharks - who along with the Bulls have reached the play-offs more often that all the other South African franchises - have yet to win a Super Rugby title.
They came within a whisker of taking first prize when they lost 19-20, with a last-gasp try, to the Bulls in 2007.
However, the Sharks have literally been "turning up the heat" is they work on laying a solid fitness foundation ahead of the extended 2012 season - a 21-week tournament with a mid-season break.
Even though focus has now shifted more to match situations, fitness remains a key element in their preparations.
"We're still training really hard and while there is still quite a large conditioning element to our programme, we're toning back on it and getting more into our game planning," Plumtree told the Sharks' website.
The heat has been relentless, although this week has been cooler. Still, Durban at this time of the year can be unbearable and plenty of 'blood, sweat and tears' have been shed as they build for a six-month campaign.
The Sharks coach is happy with the way things have gone, and the minimal disruptions to the team in terms of injuries is further cause for satisfaction.
"It's good to have numbers out there, the boys are avoiding injuries, staying fit and looking really good. We have trials next week so we want the players to be reasonably organised for that."
He also confirmed that Willem Alberts had his first run this week, while Jean Deysel is improving his leg strength.
The Sharks will not have an intensive pre-season campaign - with an internal trial match and then hosting Boland, before closing out their programme with a match against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth.
* Meanwhile the Sharks confirmed that they have re-signed their top players, including a number of Springboks, some on long term contracts, as well as retaining the emerging talent.
Teams often need two or three years within that environment of continuity to build a foundation off which success becomes a natural by-product.
The Sharks have seven players from the current squad who each boast over 100 combined caps in the Currie Cup and Super Rugby - with Jacques Botes closing in on 200 (currently on 187).
A further four could break the century mark this year and many are closing in on 50.
Patrick Lambie already has 44 appearances for the Sharks, as well as being capped at the World Cup for the Springboks.
"It is very pleasing for the Sharks that we are able to both retain our top players as well as attract from other to build a competitive team capable of winning trophies," Sharks (Pty) Ltd CEO Brian van Zyl told the franchise's website.
"We also have some outstanding young players who have been identified, have gone through the ranks of the Sharks Academy or age group competitions, and have been retained for the long term. We are excited about the stature of player we have in the province and look forward to not only a successful campaign in the immediate future, but also in the years ahead."
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