Attitude and Intent

Although it was not a perfect performance, Cell C Sharks head coach Robert du Preez was nonetheless very proud of his team’s victory over the Vodacom Blue Bulls in our opening Currie Cup match on Saturday.

“Hopefully it was entertaining for the fans that were here,” he said after the 26-10 win at JONSSON KINGS PARK. Four tries to one and a bonus point, and victory at home is a very pleasing result that cannot be denied.

“I thought there were some good passages of play from both teams, I’m very pleased with our defence, I thought that was outstanding. That showed the attitude and intent from the boys.”

Du Preez also re-emphasised the importance of home wins in a truncated tournament limited to just one round of matches.

“It’s a good start for us at home, it’s such a short competition that you have to win as many games as possible, but certainly all your home games, you can’t slip up on any of those.

“We only have three home games and if you want to play in the final, you’re not only going to have to win at home, but also away from home.”

Looking at what is going to be important in this campaign – aside from the obvious – the coach said that preparing as best as possible will be crucial.

“We have to be accurate in every game and preparation is obviously going to be important. We had a good week leading into the Blue Bulls game and I thought that we came through well in the game because of it.”

Aphelele Fassi had a dream start to his senior career at The Sharks, scoring with his first touch of the ball and showing blistering pace and danger to the opposition each time he got his hands on the ball.

But not only is he a wing but can play elsewhere which means, in this time of the season when we’re missing many players, his versatility make him an extremely valuable addition to the team.

“He’s a special young player, very talented,” his coach said. “We play him on the wing but he’s actually a fullback and it’s great to have a guy like that in the setup. He’ll have to keep working hard though.”

Will we see a lot more of him? There is no doubt that young players will be given opportunities and exposure in this competition.

“Hopefully he will get a start, I’m considering him there and it could happen at any time.”

Juan Schoeman said last week how he plans to use this campaign as a springboard to develop his career even more. Although Beast Mtawarira started most games during the Vodacom Super Rugby campaign, Schoeman’s Man of the Match award in Saturday’s clash shows that he’s a talent not to be overlooked.

“He was brilliant, he had a great Super Rugby season when he got his opportunities behind Beast and he’s just continued that form into the Currie Cup. He’s a guy who can play 80 minutes and was outstanding in this game.”

Of course no game is the perfect performance and one facet that du Preez admitted needed some work was the team’s conversion rate.

“I don’t think we were great as far as converting opportunities into points goes, our accuracy wasn’t great and something we definitely have to work on.

“We do create a lot of opportunities and we need to convert them. But I am happy with where we are; I thought the boys’ attitude and intent was very good.”