Our Cell C Sharks might have enjoyed a week’s break after the Jaguares match, but they are back into the thick of things as the team prepares for the Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Rebels at Growthpoint KINGS PARK on Saturday.
Lock Etienne Oosthuizen is certainly making his mark this season and his contribution to the team’s fortunes are always made with commitment and intensity.
The latter two he could put away for a week as the team enjoyed their bye week, but now that they’re back from the break, it’s all systems go.
“The guys have come back fresh, we’ve had seven weeks of brutal Vodacom Super Rugby and the bye was a chance to reset the mind and reset the body,” he explains.
“It’s quite different sitting at home on the weekend, watching the games instead of playing and it gives you an opportunity to see how the other teams are playing and where they are.”
Shifting focus to his own team and assessing how the Cell Sharks season is going after seven weeks and six matches, he believes our team is in a good position.
“We are quite happy with where we are at this stage,” he says, “although we did let one or two games slip that we could have and should have won. But we’re very happy with the wins so far and we just need to keep winning and getting better each week.”
The last outing was a win when they had a very tough, competitive match against the Jaguares and although there is a desire to get the crowd on their feet, cheering them on, this was not a game where they could really play open running rugby.
“We always want to entertain our fans at the stadium, but at the end of the day, they are an international team and a win is a win against them. We’ll take that.
“It was a tough game,” he explains. “They are very passionate and for the youngsters, it was a good place to learn. Especially winning, because now they know what it takes.”
One thing a Super Rugby team can be sure of when meeting the Jaguares is the physicality they bring, which is always a good tester. Certainly our Cell C Sharks pack stood up to the challenge which is a good sign for the rest of the season and Saturday’s match in particular.
“There is always room for improvement, we are a young pack but we are developing and as we play more and more together, we are gelling. We are very happy with where we are at this stage but we know we need to just keep on working.”
He admits that after the previous physical, confrontational match, they expect something different from the Rebels.
“They are typical of Australian sides in that they like to throw the ball around, so our challenge will be to stop their momentum and also to play to our game plan.”
That doesn’t make them any less dangerous and despite sitting bottom of the log, they beat the Brumbies who were top of the log. He admits that not too much should be read into every result. It also proves just how tight this competition is.
“It is really down to what happens on the day. One team was probably more up for it on the day, and the two teams have quite a rivalry going, matches between them are always quite tough. The Brumbies have struggled against the Rebels in the past, so this was nothing new and not totally unexpected.”
On a personal level, he admits that he is enjoying his season. He’s had an extended run and also picked up a call from the Springboks to participate in a training camp recently.
“I’m enjoying the game time I’ve been getting, it gives you a chance to develop your game and it helps you to improve each season. I just want to do my best for the team.
And his thoughts on being called up to the Bok straining squad?
“I didn’t expect it, but it definitely warmed my heart.”