Cell C Sharks Head Coach Robert du Preez has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged his players to deliver a rousing performance against the Sunwolves in Singapore in an important Vodacom Super Rugby match on Saturday.
Not happy with what the team delivered against the Kings last Saturday, du Preez has made it known how he feels and has made selection changes based on his dissatisfaction.
“If you play for the Sharks, we can’t tolerate sub-standard performances. We’ve spoken a lot about what it means to play for the Sharks, about pride in the jersey and the team as a whole didn’t perform well.
“We’re looking for the guys to make a huge step-up after a very disappointing game against the Kings,” he said on the eve of the team’s clash. “This is a game against the Sunwolves where nothing but every individual’s best will be good enough.”
The Sunwolves, in their second season of Vodacom Super Rugby, have had an interesting season. They started off crashing 83-17 to the Hurricanes in Week 1 and lost to the Crusaders 50-3 in Week 8.
But outside of those two big margins of defeat, they have been hugely competitive this season in pushing the Cheetahs, Stormers and Chiefs, and beating the Bulls in their only victory of the season.
Despite propping up the log with seven points in their 10 matches to date (with the Rebels one point ahead of them in 17th place, also with one win from 10 outings).
Two weeks ago, they were again competitive, this time in their away match against the Jaguares, narrowly losing 46-39. Last week they had a bye and this week will enjoy playing in front of local support against the Cell C Sharks.
Given the shock loss to the Kings last week and the strong words that would have accompanied the result and performance, there will be no underestimating a side that has nothing to lose.
The two teams have only met once, when the Sunwolves were introduced to the expanded competition last year. We defeated them 40-29 at Growthpoint KINGS PARK in the final weekend of regular competition action and in doing so, booking a place in the qualifiers.
While the knock-out rounds are still quite some way away and a top 8 finish still needs lots more action to be determined, the Cell C Sharks have a dual approach about this match.
Winning will keep them on track to go through to the next round, but the players and coaching staff are attaching more importance to a clinical, accurate and passionate performance. Some recent up and down form has not helped with the team’s momentum and continuity and a solid effort on Saturday will certainly leave smiles on the faces of all concerned.
Three injuries last weekend against the Kings does not help, but as head coach Robert du Preez said this week, those who are now in the frame must take the step up. He supports the entire squad and is looking for those players to show why they deserved selection.
“This is a team with a lot of talent, but the players need to step up and play to their potential,” he said. “There can’t be any excuses anymore. Our exits cost us dearly against the Kings and we just cannot afford to have a repeat performance with that. We also need to convert every opportunity we get.
“The boys are up for the challenge; they need to do it for themselves, they need to do it for the union, and they need to do it for the fans.”