Sharks coach Gary Gold hopes his club’s investment into travel preparation research will bear fruit against the Hurricanes.
The Durban-based side finished eighth on the final Super Rugby ladder, necessitating the long trip to Wellington to face the in-form Hurricanes.
But Gold said his side would show no fatigue on Saturday, with employees of the club fine-tuning the players’ sleep, training, diet and recovery.
“I’m sure it’s a factor but it’s just not an excuse,” Gold told reporters.
“The travel is the travel, we know what it is and I think we’ve, at the Sharks, put a lot of time and energy into the science of travel and preparation.
“I would like to believe we do things a little differently and so far, touchwood, it’s given us a little bit of a return on our investment.”
Gold said he was surprised to avoid a quarter-final against the Lions, who relinquished first place with their final-week loss to the Jaguares in Argentina.
He was under no illusions as to the scale of the Hurricanes challenge.
“This is going to be quite literally Test match level,” Gold said.
“(But) we know we’re a group of guys who have the ability to be competitive.”
In team news, Springboks first five-eighth Patrick Lambie will miss the match after failing to acquire special dispensation from SANZAAR to play.
Lambie played only three games in an injury-ravaged season, rendering him ineligible for selection.
The 25-year-old was unfit to play regardless.
“The bottom line is that he didn’t make it through from a symptoms point of view,” Gold said.