Intriguingly Saturday night’s clash will be the first time since 1999 that the number one team at the end of the regular season has not featured in the final. The well-travelled Sharks overcame reigning champions the Queensland Reds in the qualifying final before beating the table topping Stormers last week in Cape Town.
If the Sharks are too make history and beat the Chiefs it will be an incredible feat as they have had to cross the Indian Ocean three times in three weeks on their way to the final.
Sharks coach John Plumtree is well aware of the challenge facing his side. “It would be amazing ... flying there, flying back here, then back again.” Plumtree said. “Nobody has ever done it. Who can do it? If we don't do this, someone will eventually. If we can get up physically for this game, anything can happen.” “…the players are younger and get over it quicker. It's not ideal but we will try to prepare smartly and get these boys back up. We're representing South Africa now.”
The Sharks have been preparing in Sydney this week but headed for Waikato today to finalise their preparations for Saturday's showdown against Sonny Bill Williams and his Chief teammates. The Chiefs have bounced back to form following losses in their last two regular season matches. The Chiefs boast a potent backline led by the enigmatic Sonny Bill Williams and All Black reserve no.10 Aaron Cruden.
Saturday’s clash is sure to be a blockbuster and unfortunately for one of these teams their run of losses in the final will continue. But for the other, they will be part of a team to go down in history as the first to bring the crown home.
Adam Schoenmaker is a high school chaplain in the northern suburbs of Brisbane for three days each week and serves two days a week in his local church. Adam loves a good book, a classic album and all Queensland sporting teams.
Adam Schoenmaker archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/adam-schoenmaker.html