The Golden Lions will host the Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park this weekend with both sides knowing how important the outcome of this Currie Cup match will be in their respective tournament goals.
A rare Sunday match beckons with the Lions having lost at home last weekend and desperate not to suffer back-to-back defeats, while the Cell C Sharks will take enormous confidence from the win over Free State at JONSSON KINGS PARK last Saturday.
Playing on a Sunday is a rare occurrence, the benefit obviously being an extra day to train.
“The long week was actually a blessing for us,” Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt admits. “We had a fair number of injuries after the Free State game, that can be seen in team selection, so it gave us a bit of time to assess those. The only thing is that next week will be short, so we’ll have one day less then. Playing on a Sunday is different but I think good to experience to see how it works going forward.”
Injuries have necessitated a number of changes with Everitt naming a new face at flyhalf, Boeta Chamberlain. The former Paarl Boys High pupil will make his senior debut after playing all of his local rugby under Everitt’s tutelage.
“It’s exciting for Boeta who showed talent from an early age in his high school career before injuries curtailed things in Grade 11 and 12 and we brought him to The Sharks given that potential showed in his younger days. He had a great season for the Under 19s last year, played in the SuperSport Challenge at flyhalf and fullback for us and excelled there. He’s been playing really well for the Under 21s this year and really deserves the call-up.”
Cell C Sharks centre and co-captain Jeremy Ward is also looking forward to Chamberlain’s contribution.
“He’s really excited about it and deserving of this opportunity. He’s worked and played with Sanele Nohamba which will give him a lot of confidence. And then myself and JP Pietersen outside of him, we’ll be there, in his ear all game. We’re looking for him to play his natural game and express himself the way he has that got him here. We know if he does that, he’ll really excel on Sunday.”
With two games remaining, the competition is hotting up ahead of the semi-finals and Ward explains that the Cell C Sharks are in a good place right now.
“That win last week really boosted the morale in the squad again and we’re excited. We’re looking to grow and Sunday is another opportunity for that. We know how tough the Lions are going to be, it’s going to be a challenge in Joburg but we’re excited about it. We have a good plan and if we stick to it, we should come out on top.”
Talking of the Lions, coach Everitt believes the team knows their opposition well and what to expect.
“The Lions are also a young team, also full of energy and they play an exciting brand of rugby – as they have over a number of years,” he explains. “We know what’s coming, they’re not a team that enjoys lineouts so they don’t kick the ball out, they prefer to back their defence and aim for turnovers.
“We also know that they’re a team that doesn’t go away, they’ve had three wins which all came in the last couple of minutes of those games. The first game of the season was proof of that when they were down, 38-21, and came back to win that game by a point.
“We’re under no false illusions of what they’re about. Our fitness and the tempo of rugby we’ve played over the last few weeks is also proof that we can last to the death and that’s one of the things we will be concentrating on this week.”