The Cell C Sharks have enjoyed some time off to recuperate and rejuvenate from the rigours of Vodacom Super Rugby, but our side is now chomping at the bit to get stuck into action again.
That starts with us hosting the Melbourne Rebels at Growthpoint KINGS PARK on Saturday evening (19h30 pm kick-off).
Defence coach Ryan Strudwick admits that the bye was a welcome break for our team.
“It’s good to have a break but we were starting to play really well and it’s always good to maintain that continuity off the back of a win,” he explains, “but the boys needed a break and hopefully it doesn’t disrupt us too much.”
The squad is in good shape although not too many changes are expected from the personnel who defeated the Jaguares two weeks ago.
“Keegan Daniel started full training today [Tuesday], so he’s back and can do almost everything, but we’re just exercising caution with his arm and he hasn’t been cleared to train. Philip van der Walt who played off the bench against the Jaguares in his return following injury is available for selection this weekend.”
Turning his eye to the opposition, he warns that they’re going to be tough opponents whose style of play may be very well-suited to possible conditions in Durban. While everyone wants to see exciting, quick and flowing rugby, the truth is that with the heat and humidity, that isn’t always possible.
An interesting statistic raised by Strudick was the fact that in the last seven years, only three times has a team scored four or more tries in Durban within the first six rounds.
“It’s not easy here, we made a lot of handling errors against the Jaguares, and they also struggled. It’s really difficult to play here at this time of the year.
“We’re hoping the humidity will go away so that we can play, because we want to play. But because the ball is so slippery, you can’t. Hopefully this weekend it will be a different story.”
He believes that the Rebels are going to be no easy-beats as evidenced by their recent form.
“People often say a team is only as good as their last game and they beat the Brumbies who are top of their table, so we have to be on our toes and perform well or we could easily slip up.
They aren’t playing badly. They haven’t had the results they wanted but they’re a good side. We’ve analysed them pretty well and they aren’t a poor side. They play good rugby, they throw the ball around and defensively they’re a pretty sound side that isn’t conceding a lot of points. We know we have our work cut out for us.
“They’re a very competitive side that has been unlucky a few times and they keep the ball alive. They’re probably a little more conservative that other Australian sides. With the heat in Durban, the conditions might actually favour them. We looking forward to the match on Saturday.”