Boyd: Discipline won't be an issue for Sharks
Former Sharks assistant coach Chris Boyd doesn't expect to see the South African side resorting to cynical behaviour or niggle to unsettle the Crusaders.
The Sharks caused a 30-25 boilover when the teams last met in Christchurch in May but they had to do it the hard way, playing 64 minutes with 14 men.
Poor discipline plagued the Sharks with loose forward Jean Deysel sent off after stamping on the face of Crusaders opposite Jordan Taufua. Fellow flanker Willem Alberts was sinbinned in the second half for a professional foul.
Boyd, who will coach the Hurricanes next season, was an assistant at the Sharks in 2009 and 2010 under John Plumtree.
He has kept in close contact with Plumtree, who coached the Sharks up until last year and will assist Boyd at the Hurricanes in 2015.
Many of the team's experienced forward pack are still around from when Boyd was involved.
He believed the Sharks would be eager to avoid any silly penalties or gift away easy field position in Saturday night's Super Rugby semifinal at AMI Stadium.
"Most of the forward pack is the same guys that were there when I was there. Most of the guys are not dirty players," he said.
"I'm sure there'll be the odd bit of sledging but it's not the old days. I don't think there'll be any haymakers or slippers going in."
The du Plessis brothers, Bismarck and Jannie, will be integral to the Sharks' fortunes in the front row. Boyd was proud of the way their careers had developed since he left the Durban-based franchise.
Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis, who has racked up 60 tests for South Africa since debuting in 2007, was one of the most consummate professionals he had encountered during his coaching career.
"Bismarck was always going to be potentially the best hooker in the world. He's physically imposing and he's also outstanding in his role," Boyd said.
Every day after training at Kings Park, he would go through his lineout throwing routine 100 to 200 times.
Boyd recounts an invitation to the du Plessis' parents farm in the Free State town of Bethlehem on a weekend off.
"My memory of the boys is going to their farm and having brunch on a Sunday morning. Mrs du Plessis served us a T-bone steak and there was no room for anything else on the plate," he said.
"We were up there on the [high] veld and there was no English spoken as a first language. It's a very different part of the world. They're unbelievably hospitable people. They're a great family."
The Sharks' gameplan is no secret. Their play will be built around their physical forward pack - utilising their powerful scrum, rolling maul and dependable lineout.
Boyd felt the two sides had the best set piece in the competition and said it would be an enthralling battle up front.
"At the end of the day, both teams will be trying to disrupt the other's ball but create a platform for their own," he said.
"[The Sharks] place a lot of emphasis on the set piece and play a lot of territory. They don't play a lot of rugby in the wrong parts of the field under pressure. They're very disciplined about that generally."
He said it was critical the Sharks prevented the Crusaders from getting away on them early. The physical and mental toll of the travel was a huge obstacle for them to overcome. They arrived in Christchurch on Monday night following Sunday's 31-27 qualifying final win over the Highlanders in South Africa. The Crusaders will be fresh and raring to go, having last played 14 days ago.
"If the Crusaders can accumulate points and force the Sharks to chase the game, I'm not sure they'll be able to do that," Boyd said.
Both teams will be announced today.