Waratahs captain Michael Hooper says the Sharks would be ‘silly’ not to lean on the rolling maul this weekend, but is confident they can put up a better defence this time around.
The Waratahs missed 29 tackles in a 55-36 loss to the Lions and it was their defensive maul that proved a real achilles heel, with the Lions scoring three of their eight tries off the move.
Defence coach Nathan Grey said on Thursday he expected the Sharks to be gunning for their maul after the Lions match, and Hooper echoed those thoughts on Friday.
“The Lions highlighted that’s a deficiency for us,” he said.
“Yes, we’ve put a lot of work into it this week. We know the Sharks are a good team, so we can expect a lot of that.
“It’d be silly not to have a go at us there, going with the current form.
“We’ve worked on our way of not only dealing with it but making it a positive this week and wanting teams to have to try and break us down in different ways.
“We’re confident in what we’re doing this week and getting that heads up last week could be a blessing in disguise for us.”
The Waratahs have had some extra insight into the Sharks, courtesy of Dave McDuling, who spent last season with the Durban side, before returning home to Sydney and joining the Waratahs.
“Yeah, the mayor of Durban has shown us around, some restaurants good things to do,” Hooper said.
“More importantly (he’s told us) just what to expect over here, what’s coming, some of the the Sharks’ attitude.
“I’ve been hugely impressed from day one with Dave about some of the experience that he’s brought into the 'Tahs and proved that this week and to the point where he’s starting against the team he played for last year.”
“Really happy for Dave that he gets this opportunity but it’s no surprise, he’s been putting in the hard work.
“He’s a great part of this team and I’m excited to see him get the opportunity.”
McDuling is filling Will Skelton’s starting second row role, with the Waratahs keeping the mammoth lock in cotton wool with a hamstring strain.
The Waratahs take on the Sharks on Sunday, kicking off at 4:30am AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.