An honest review by the Cell C Sharks, from management to players, of the Vodacom Super Rugby performance against the Jaguares last week has seen the team take ownership of both the result and the solution.
It wasn’t so much the result as the performance that followed a deadly dismantling of the Lions the previous week that is so perplexing. A team does not suddenly become a substandard one in the course of the week.
Head coach Robert du Preez has admitted in the lead-up to the Reds match at JONSSON KINGS PARK on Friday afternoon that taking responsibility for fixing things is everyone’s duty.
“We had a good discussion in the changeroom after the game, first and foremost the accountability starts with me and with the coaching team but it’s everyone’s responsibility and accountability, from management to players,” he explained as the team look to produce a rousing performance before heading to Australia.
Although there were a few changes to the team to play the Reds, consistency in selection remains. Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi have been rested to follow Springbok workload protocols, while there is a return for fellow Springboks Beast Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen and Sbu Nkosi.
“The decision was to give the players an opportunity at righting things,” said the coach of the fact that minimal changes were effected. “We couldn’t single out any individuals who had performed badly, the team as a whole performed badly. This is an opportunity for them to rectify it on Friday.”
With the Cell C Sharks boarding a plane this weekend for Sydney to take on the Waratahs next Saturday, this match against the Reds takes on the status of a must-win. While there is no need to panic, there is every desire to leave local shores with a good win and a comprehensive performance under our belts.
“It has to be an absolute obsession of ours to win this game on Friday,” said du Preez. “As it is, the boys have responded well this week. It was a disappointing performance although no player goes out onto the field to intentionally perform badly.
“But in this competition, if you’re five percent off the mark on the day and you play a quality team, that’s what happens.
“We’ve looked at everything from mental preparation, starting with myself, and we also looked at technical, tactical issues, conditioning. The previous week we had a fantastic performance (against the Lions), then we come out and deliver what’s not good enough.”
From the players’ perspective comes the commitment to show that last week’s match was an anomaly.
“Everyone, every single player, is excited about the opportunity to rectify what happened last week,” said wing Lwazi Mvovo. The boys have trained very well this week and we realize that we’ve let a lot of people down, not just ourselves but also the fans who come out to watch us week in and week out. We owe it to them to be better
“Playing at home, and on the eve of the tour, it’s important that we show our fans what we’re made of.”