Sharks flank Philip van der Walt, a former Super Rugby captain of the Sharks, says the energy and intensity in training in the Sharks since his recent return for club duty in Japan has been a revelation.
“Coming from Japan, I have seen the refreshing enthusiasm and competiveness of the guys,” said the 28-year-old that spent most of his career at the Cheetahs, where he made a big name for himself for his energetic work rate.
“It has been a revelation to see how the guys have stepped up and pleasing to see how the guys have stepped up in terms of their conditioning,” he said.
“From a personal point of view, I had a concussion a month ago which has meant that I have had to be given a rest towards the end of the Japanese season. So the silver lining is that I return to the Sharks rested.”
Flanker van der Walt says that his return to the Sharks has revealed a number of players putting their hands up for inclusion in the starting line-up.
“There are all these energetic youngsters fighting like mad to make the starting line-up. That is very good for the team dynamic,” van der Walt said. “It has been interesting to see the change in training techniques. In Japan, it is a very quick game but not as physical, and you learn how to be more nimble on our feet in terms of using your feet to get into space because over there they use for the chop tackle, Van der Walt said.
“It is a different style of rugby but you learn new tricks of the trade.”
Van der Walt said that the vibe he had picked up at the Sharks since his return for Japan is that this a team that after two years in a row of making the quarter-finals, is hell bent on going further.
“I am more than excited than ever before, it is a new year and I can sense the desire to advance beyond the quarters,” van der Walt said.
“We all want to play in finals and win. It has been a long time coming, and the players want to contribute to a team that goes the whole length.”