The Cell C Sharks travel to Kimberley to take on Griquas in our final pool match of the 2018 Currie Cup competition, knowing that only a win will suffice ahead of the semi-final stages.
Currently in second spot, a home semi-final hasn’t been completely sewn up, with the Blue Bulls looking for a big game against Western Province as they seek a home semi of their own, should the Cell C Sharks falter.
Kimberley hasn’t always been a happy hunting ground, although this year’s crop of Cell C Sharks players will look to close out the pool stages on a high and go into the semis with confidence.
There are numerous alternatives on offer, and if the rugby gods smile on us, a home semi and home final is just one of the permutations should the Bulls defeat Province and deny them a bonus point, and the Cell C Sharks earn a five pointer over Griquas.
“Although we have nothing to lose, we have secured a top four place, but then again, we have everything to gain,” explains Cell C Sharks tighthead prop Thomas du Toit.
“If we win this game, it sets us up nicely for the next one, and the one after that. We’re very excited for this weekend, but know it’s a must-win for us.”
The Cell C Sharks will want to take the energy of last week’s bye into this week’s match, but know that we can’t have a repeat of the result against Western Province.
“That defeat was a wake-up call, a very good one, because afterwards, we pulled in tighter as a team and the mood in the camp right now is actually very good. We have acknowledged the errors we made in that game and have identified the areas we need to fix and build.”
Looking ahead, he admits that this match has knock-out written all over it. Griquas would like nothing better than to upset the applecart in their final match of the season. They could potentially finish fifth on the overall log which wouldn’t quite be hitting their season target of a top four finish, but it would give them something to be motivated for ahead of next season.
“This game is as important as any other game for us, they have nothing to lose and we have everything to win. We’re treating it as a quarter-final.”
On a personal level, du Toit is brings a lot of energy to the Cell C Sharks, having returned from the Bok camp to do duty in the Currie Cup.
“I’m very excited to be back with the boys here in Durban and seeing my friends and family which is always good for the heart,” he explains.
“It’s been a rocky, up and down season for me, especially being scrummed heavily until finding my feet and getting opportunities to play in a position I really enjoy. But I’m still learning and believe I need another two years or so to actually put down a marker as a tighthead in South Africa. That’s not going to be easy, but it’s something I strive towards.
“There was a shortage of tightheads in the country for a while, but now it feels like we’re overflowing. But that kind of competition brings out the best in all of us.”