McLeod hopes Sharks end on a high despite exodus

Sharks scrum half Charl McLeod says that he is optimistic that the Durban Super Rugby Franchise can end their season on a high despite the emotions set to engulf Kings Park when they face the Southern Kings on Saturday.

Following the departure of John Plumtree a fortnight ago, it was confirmed on Tuesday that interim coaches and long-time assistants Hugh-Reece Edwards and Grant Bashford will also be in charge for the last time before leaving the union.

The futures of several players are also unclear ahead of the arrival of new director of rugby Brendan Venter and recently appointed chief executive John Smit.

“It’s happening, it’s a reality that there’s a lot of guys leaving the union and the coaches leaving the union as well,” said McLeod.

“It’s all part of the game. But it’s the last game, we still want to finish on a high and it will be so much sweeter for all those departing to finish on a high.

“So regardless of the emotion, we want to end strongly.”

The Durban franchise has endured an injury-ravaged season for most parts, despite topping the South African Conference log during the first third of the campaign.

No fewer than 10 regulars have been sidelined for each round of the competition and their problems worsened ahead of the final match of the season when Springbok back Patrick Lambie was ruled out due to a back injury and Butch James was suspended for four weeks following a citation during the 20-19 loss to the Bulls last week.

“Injuries definitely played their part, you can’t play your whole campaign with so many injured guys,” McLeod explained.

“I think you see the difference it made in our pack when we got a couple of ball carriers back, so it might well have been a different story if we had those guys for the whole season.”

Defeat in Pretoria has left the Sharks in 10th place in the Super Rugby standings and they can drop to 11th if they fail to win, while victory, coupled by other results going their way could lift them as high as seventh.

McLeod admitted not making the play-offs was dejecting.

“We’re obviously disappointed in the fact that we didn’t make the play-offs,” he said.

“We had big aspirations for this year and it didn’t work out for us.

“Hopefully we’ll finish on a nice high. That will also make our fans proud.”

The Sharks and Kings have already met once this season when the former edged to a 21-12 win in Port Elizabeth and McLeod was expecting a tough contest against the bottom placed side from the Eastern Cape.

“They’ve been a tough opponent for a lot of teams the whole year through,” he added.

“They’re very structured and very good on defence. So it’s going to take a big 80 minute performance from us to close out the win.”

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