Cell C Sharks head coach Robert du Preez has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged his players to heed his call to take a major step up against the Sunwolves in our Vodacom Super Rugby clash on Saturday.

There are going to be enforced changes to the backline following the loss of flyhalf Patrick Lambie and centre Jeremy Ward, neither of whom made the trip to Singapore.

“Pat has to go through the concussion protocols, hopefully all will be fine,” said du Preez. “We didn’t want to risk taking him and ultimately he did fail the concussion test at the game. When I spoke to him on Monday morning he said he was feeling much better and hopefully he will be back for the Stormers match.”

Jeremy Ward who suffered a broken nose and following an operation on Monday, will not be taking contact for four to five weeks.

“The guys coming in are just going to have to step up,” said du Preez.

As far as changes to the playing personnel and whether that affects the game plan, du Preez felt it was more about the team’s overall performance and attitude, rather than the Sharks forward domination or backline attacking play.

“We need to play to our strengths and the pack will definitely be key for us,” he said. “I’m looking for a massive step-up from the whole team, so it’s not just about the backline. This is a mission that we’re going on and we need a massive effort from everyone; that’s what let us down against the Kings.

“The effort was poor, we got out-played, out-muscled and out-passioned and with the squad that we have, that’s unacceptable. I’m tired of making excuses for the players and I’m not making any excuses; it just wasn’t good enough for a team of this calibre.”

He pinpointed individual mental preparation as key to how the players approach this week’s game (as he felt is necessary for every game).

“We had a very good week in terms of preparation, I was happy with that. We spoke about what the Kings would bring, they were getting support to watch the game and we knew it would be a passionate affair, therefore the loss was hugely disappointing.

“I need to look at the senior players and they need to step it up. Mental preparation needs to improve.”

Despite his obvious disappointment he did acknowledge that the players have taken accountability for their performance.

“The players are hurting after that loss and know that they have let our fans down. They want to make amends in Singapore this week.”