Although the Cell C Sharks’ four match tour overseas did not herald the kind of success we would have liked as far as log points go, the performances in the last fortnight indicate that there is something special in this team.
A gut-wrenching last-gasp loss to the Hurricanes has only emboldened the team to push for the rewards they work so hard to achieve, and this week against the Vodacom Bulls at JONSSON KINGS PARK offers that opportunity.
The players arrived back in Durban on Saturday night and with the comforts of home now returned, are excited about the challenges that lie ahead.
“Four weeks away was tough on the mind and body and we struggled a bit in the first two weeks but we stuck to our guns in New Zealand and turned it around for the season when guys played really well,” explains Kobus van Wyk. “It’s now great to be back home.”
What changed after the disappointments in Australia?
“We were down in the dumps after the second game when the Rebels put 50 points on us, but we regrouped, spoke about it and things changed,” he explains.
“The guys are ready to play now, we are still aiming for the quarter-finals and we’re back at home now, so I think we can definitely turn it around.”
Losing at the death against the Hurricanes was devastating, but a good lesson, he points out.
“They’re a quality side and they’ve been in a couple of finals in the last few years, and they would have taken a lot of experience out of that; which meant keeping the ball in the last few minutes. It is tough to lose a game like that at the death but we learned a lot and can only grow from that.”
Building on from New Zealand is a big focus for the team, particularly as we now play six of our final nine matches at home and especially following the confidence taken from our performances in the last two weeks.
“In the games against the Blues and Hurricanes, the guys really pitched up and everything came together as a group. We stuck to our structures and the guys played really well, we’re looking forward to playing again. We want to throw the ball around, we have the flair and more importantly, the players to do it; we just need to unleash them.”
With the overseas leg now behind us, he admits that a new chapter awaits the Cell C Sharks, particularly with derby matches in the next two weeks.
“We have new goals and we want to finish top of the SA Conference and get a home quarter-final.”
That continues this weekend when we take on the Bulls who come to Durban fresh off a bye.
“The Vodacom Bulls are playing well at the moment,” he explains, “sending the ball wide a lot so it’s a new look to their style of play, showing a lot of flair and I think we can expect anything from them.”
He admits that the Vodacom Bulls employ a similar style to the Cell C Sharks – physicality upfront and backs that like to play.
“Yes it is similar, although every team likes to throw the ball around a bit to express themselves. The Vodacom Bulls too, and their forwards who also like to run with the ball and then put their backs into space.”
The match kicks off at 5.15pm on Saturday.