The Cell C Sharks have enjoyed a week’s break and an opportunity for introspection and are now rejuvenated and focused on welcoming the Rebels to JONSSON KINGS PARK for a sixth round Vodacom Super Rugby clash.
“Everyone got a decent amount of rest for our bye week, but we have to come out swinging this week,” explains Cell C Sharks tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen.
“A loss like we suffered against the Vodacom Bulls is something we take very personally, it obviously wasn’t what we wanted and it weighed on our minds. But the beauty of rugby is that each week is a new one and an opportunity to prove yourself again.
“From the leaders to the coaches and management staff, we know we have to make a step up and have a deep look at ourselves. Introspection was done and everyone knows we have to work 10% harder. Hopefully that shows this weekend.”
This is a match between two protagonists who suffered disappointing losses in their previous outing and the Rebels will know that defending a huge lead and then watching the certain win slip from their grasp is not something they can do again.
After leading 33-5 and then conceding a huge lead to lose the game at the death is not something the Rebels will allow to happen again in a hurry. “Like every team, they will learn from their mistakes and that was obviously a massive mistake,” says Oosthuizen. “But we aren’t going to meet the same Rebels side that played in the second half (and conceded 28 unanswered points).
“The Rebels are on fire and you make a huge mistake if you underestimate them. They were undefeated until they lost to the Lions, we know it’s going to be a massive challenge, they’re the team to beat at the moment.”
He acknowledges that the forwards are under scrutiny following the team’s recent form but points out that they’re developing as a unit.
“We made a few mistakes and silly errors at scrum time in our last two games, but we are growing as a pack and we’re getting towards where we want to be. But there is still a lot of stepping up we as the forward pack need to do and we all know we have so much more to give. The competition still has a long way to go and hopefully as a pack, by the end, we as the forwards can say we achieved our goals.”
With 2019 also being a World Cup year, there are the inevitable thoughts about a player’s mindset and focus – is it on Vodacom Super Rugby or the Springboks? Oosthuizen points out the absolute truth to this scenario.
“When you’re playing, that’s the only game that matters – above all else – and you give your all for that team. A player will give 110% for the Cell C Sharks while he’s playing Vodacom Super Rugby, and the same 110% effort for the Springboks when he’s playing at test level. Basically, if you don’t pitch up with 110% for the Cell C Sharks every game, you will not be playing Springbok rugby later.”
So where is the team’s mental state now?
“We were outplayed and made unnecessary errors, but mentally, the mindset was the same as it was in the first two games. I think we’re getting there, we had two slip-ups but it’s nothing to start panicking about.
“We are forming a good, solid team and we’re striving to be the best team we can be.”