Sharks face one trip too many: White
South Africa's World Cup-winning coach Jake White says the globe-trotting Sharks face a monumental battle toppling the Chiefs in tomorrow's Super Rugby final.
Both teams will strive for their first Super title in front of a sellout crowd at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
Over the last few weeks, the nomadic Sharks have travelled away from their Durban base to score finals victories over Australian conference winners Queensland in Brisbane and South Africa's table-topping minor premiers the Stormers in Cape Town.
Their reward is a second lengthy flight to Australasia in two weeks to face the New Zealand conference-winning Chiefs, who ousted seven-time champions the Crusaders last week.
''I think that it's going to be a hell of a tough ask for the Sharks to go back and forth and back and forth [between South Africa and Australasia] and get away with wins consecutively,'' said White, who has just completed his first season as the Brumbies head coach.
''It would be an amazing achievement for a team that finished sixth to actually end up winning it, and beating teams that came first and second.
''They would end up beating the Reds, who won that conference, the Stormers, who won their conference, and then the Chiefs, who won their conference.
''It would be a massive effort for the Sharks. It would be phenomenal if they could.
''But I think, obviously, the Chiefs must be favourites.''
Even before the finals series was extended from two to three weeks last year, winning a Super final on overseas soil proved an insurmountable barrier for almost all teams.
Nine of the 10 finals contested by teams from two different countries went the way of the home side.
The only travelling team to win a title on foreign soil are the redoubtable Crusaders, who shaded the Brumbies 20-19 in 2000 in Canberra.
The Sharks have broken up the journey to New Zealand by staying in Sydney for three days.
''I'm not sure this sort of travel has ever been done before and, if we were to win on Saturday, I think all the sports science details about travel fatigue would go out the window,'' Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford said on the team's website.
''We're in uncharted territory now, but jetlag is going to be the least of our worries.
''We'll just focus on ensuring we prepare for the final as best we can.''