The Cell C Sharks take on the Hurricanes in our final tour match of this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby competition, and given last week’s incredible result against the Blues, will be looking to leave New Zealand on a high.
Although the Blues are formidable opposition – as are all New Zealand sides – tomorrow’s showdown with the Hurricanes presents a greater challenge (with all due respect to the Auckland team) and there is no getting away from the fact that this is likely to be our toughest clash of the four match tour, if not the tournament to date.
Reflecting on his team’s turnaround last week, Cell C Sharks eighthman Tera Mtembu explains that, “Our pack did well last week after letting ourselves down the previous two weekends and there is a big focus to do well against the Hurricanes on Friday. Everyone enjoyed themselves, that showed on the field and hopefully we can do it again. We’re looking to grow the momentum that started last week and hopefully the results will come.”
Head coach Robert du Preez talked up his team’s pack after the win over the Blues and their invaluable contribution to the win, but everyone knows that it won’t be easy against the Hurricanes.
“They have a very good pack,” says Mtembu, “they’re a well-coached team so we know it’s going to be a tough encounter.”
Fortunately, the consequence of such an important win last week was the confidence the team have been able to take out of that match, which obviously bodes well for this weekend and beyond.
“It was a big psychological boost for us, we needed it and we’ll take a lot of confidence out of the win and the fact that we played the way we want to.”
Another big contributor last week was Andre Esterhuizen who also talks up the value of the win over the Blues.
“Things came together for us and there is more confidence in the team, everyone is happy and the vibe is good in the camp,” he points out.
The Hurricanes are a form team, but he admits that there will be no holding back from the Cell C Sharks as they look to throw everything at the opposition.
“They’re a quality side and we’re going to have to give it our all, but the boys are up for the challenge,” he explains. “If we stick to our structures and how we want to play, then this is a game we can win.”
The coach admitted this week that defence and discipline would have to be top notch, considering last week’s win over the Blues that had some nervy moments to negotiate and Esterhuizen admits that defence is going to play a huge part in the game.
“Defence is going to be massive on Friday, they’re a really good attacking team – forwards and backs – but if it holds up against their huge threats, we can win the contact battles which be a big help. I think keeping them out and smashing them back is going to be key.”
Of attack, he admits that after last week when the forwards provided quality front foot ball, the backline was able to attack with intent and success, something they’ll be hoping the forwards can deliver again.
“When you get the ball on the back foot, you can’t do what you want to, but last week our forwards did very well, they gave us great ball and we managed to score lots of tries.”