With the injuries and Springbok player rest, Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Kings presents the perfect opportunity for some of our younger Cell C Sharks players to gain valuable game time.
Assistant coach Sean Everitt explained that it’s time to make some changes. Springbok players need rest and players in the squad need to play.
“We do have injuries this weekend, but at some stage we do have to rest our Springboks so the plan was always to rest them this weekend anyway,” he pointed out.
“Certainly not because we’re underestimating the Kings, but because of the games we have ahead of us which will then take us into the bye. That counts as another rest week which means we can have some continuity going into the second stanza of the competition.”
The changes aren’t so much enforced as part of the grand plan, but wouldn’t be possible if the coaching staff didn’t have trust in the abilities of those who will be asked to step up this weekend.
Quite the opposite.
“We back the young guys. Fortunately, we’ve trained with a big squad and every one of the players has put his hand up for selection. We had two pre-season friends where they all got an opportunity to show their hand and they all came out with flying colours. We don’t have an issue about who gets to play, they all know their roles and now they have the opportunity to gain a starting position.”
He admitted that Pat’s injury was a huge blow for us, but they have to work around that, as they always would, given his Springbok status and the need to rest him at times during the competition anyway.
“The team is extremely disappointed for him, he’s had some bad luck over the last few years. This is the fourth year that he’s had an injury. But whether he gets injured or not, we know he can’t play all the games because of his Springbok contractual obligations, so we do have a back-up plan with good youngsters in Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Inny Radebe and Garth April who can fulfil that role.
Looking at this past weekend’s match between the Stormers and Kings as a yardstick by which to judge the Kings, Everitt warned that they are going to be a tough prospect.
“They are a team on the rise. They had a slow start but they have some old heads. Lionel Cronje is playing some good rugby and they’re obviously relying on him to direct the traffic. They were in the game against the Stormers this weekend until about the last 10 minutes. The Stormers were under pressure and we certainly won’t be underestimating them.”
Looking at the young players involved in last year’s Currie Cup and then the pre-season preparations for Vodacom Super Rugby 2017, he said that in the coaches’ eyes, despite the daunting task, the players are ready.
“It’s a big mental shift – you have to make decisions under pressure – and the youngsters have come through. You only have to look at Curwin Bosch’s performance on Saturday night as an example. He scored 27 points and showed a cool head.
“Everyone has trained hard together and I think the youngsters are prepared; it’s just the mental shift they have to make. And for them to believe in their ability.”