Cell C Sharks head coach Robert du Preez was very happy with his team’s effort against Racing 92 in their final pre-season hit-out before the start of Vodacom Super Rugby in less than two weeks’ time. We had scored three tries before the French team managed to score for the first time only in the second half, before we piled on the pressure and added a further two tries late in the game to finally outscore Racing five tries to two.

“We are very pleased with the result, I think it was a great squad effort,” said du Preez afterwards, reflecting on the fact that this was an outstanding effort from the entire squad that was selected to tour Hong Kong.26 players made the trip with each one contributing in a game that was all about playing for positions and getting valuable match time under the belt. Outside of the game itself, it was also an opportunity for new and established, young and experienced to spend time together, as a team.

“The week in Hong Kong as really great from a team cohesion and team spirit building point of view,” the coach admitted. “Our hosts, the Hong Kong Rugby Union really looked after us, they were great and it was a fantastic event.”The match showed glimpses of what this team is able to produce and although it was still early days as far as the 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby competition goes, there was plenty to be excited about for the season ahead. It was a good team effort all-round and du Preez admitted as much.

“I wouldn’t like to single out any individual performances, I think it was a great squad effort, great attitude shown by the boys and we’re pleased with the result,” he said.“With regards the tries, I think there was some really good interplay between backs and forwards. We had a few more opportunities, but to score five tries at this time of the year, against a formidable outfit like Racing was pleasing.”

However, all coaches temper their enthusiasm with the reality that their job, their team, and its growth is a work in progress and du Preez explained that while there was much to be excited about, the team is not the finished product. There are still two weeks of training remaining before the first challenge – the Lions at Emirates Airline Park next Saturday, 17 February – and the Cell C Sharks will now use the information gained from their two pre-season warm-up matches to fine-tune where necessary.

“There’s still a lot of hard work to be done. When we get back to Durban, we will have a very tough week in terms of some preparation we feel we need.“We are happy from a conditioning point of view and I think we’re making good progress,” he added. “This match was good preparation for our game against the Lions.”