Rectifying the Past

Following the hurt of the upset loss to the Kings on the weekend, the Cell C Sharks will be looking to make amends this Saturday when they take on the Sunwolves in their week 13 Vodacom Super Rugby clash in Singapore.

The influential and passionate loose-forward, Philip van der Walt, admits that the team are very unhappy with the way they played and vows that there is serious intent in the team ahead of the clash with the Sunwolves.

“It’s obvious that we are very disappointed with the outcome of the game and also with our performance,” he explains. “There were harsh words afterwards; something has to be said after a performance like the one we had. We’re all hurting and we all feel bad about what happened, but we know we have to bounce back again this weekend.”

Having a short turnaround – they flew to Singapore on Monday – meant limited opportunity to discuss the Kings’ match, but he discusses what they feel went wrong.

“We identified that the way we exited our half of the field wasn’t accurate enough and that put us under pressure. We also didn’t take our opportunities well, we had a couple of drives in their half that didn’t lead to tries. So there are individual errors we need to cut down on and we also need to exit better after we have just scored points.”

In the scheme of the log, there wasn’t a whole lot of damage with our team enjoying a nine point lead over the chasing Jaguares, and he agrees that there’s no need to show anxiety at this stage.

“The last thing we want to do is panic. You don’t become a bad team after one game, although we aren’t hiding from the fact that it was a bad performance. Fortunately on the log, it doesn’t make a big difference, but it does make a difference to how we approach the next game as well as our support. We still have our own goals and standards that we set for ourselves – we failed in that regard – it was a bad weekend for us.”

The Sunwolves beat the Bulls, and the Kings beat the Sharks, so there is every need to respect your opposition and his thoughts on the Japanese team are not to underestimate them. In their last two matches, they have lost by only seven points – to the Jaguares and Chiefs – both away from home.

“I think it’s going to be a similar challenge to the one we had against the Kings’” he admits. “They are playing well, they play with a lot of passion and confidence and we are going to have to make sure we pitch up for the game with more passion than them. We have something to lose in this game so we need to show what it means for us, as Sharks players. We don’t expect the Sunwolves to do anything but throw everything at us and we’re going to have to absorb it and focus on our own game.”

Playing big games provides motivation naturally, but in some games, you have to find that motivation. Where will motivation come from against the Sunwolves?

“Our motivation comes from the disappointment of the Kings’ match,” he admits. “We want to rectify the hurt and damage they inflicted on a very proud and respected union. That’s one; the other is that we need to prepare ourselves and our game according to the style and level of play needed in the play-offs. If we’re not going to achieve that level now, it’s not going to just happen in the latter stages of the competition.

“If we don’t achieve what we set out to do, it’s just going to get tougher and tougher for us.

“You have to perform every week and this match is no different and what we want to do is get our own play back on track and cut out the errors that are hurting us.”