The Cell C Sharks will travel to Emirates Airline Park for their third round Carling Currie Cup clash against the Sigma Lions in a good place as they look to continue their good form in the competition.
“Everybody is good, the team is relatively settled in terms of a number of guys now starting their third game, likewise on the bench and from a mental standpoint, everyone is in a good space and now it’s about bringing the performance,” explained Cell C Sharks head coach Etienne Fynn.
The way the tournament has been structured and with the Vodacom United Rugby Championship being played concurrently, the Cell C Sharks are only playing their third game in the five week period the Currie Cup has been going. Whichever way you look at it, there are positives and negatives that each team must negotiate as they plan and plot and execute.
“From a player welfare point of view, it’s good in terms of the guys having an opportunity to recover from their aches and pains. Ideally you’d like to be playing week in and week out, but we have had 10 day – even two week – breaks, so there are pros and cons to it.
“Personally, something I do like is if a guy would possibly be going to miss a Saturday game, he has time to recover to play a Wednesday game. Everything works out.”
The Lions have been bolstered with the inclusion of three players from the URC squad, naming prop JP Smith and the Tshituka brothers in their Currie Cup team to face the Cell C Sharks.
“They’ve picked some experienced and exciting campaigners, this is a good side,” Fynn said.
“From an expectation point of view, they have some exciting outside backs and I think they will move the ball around a lot. We all know that their identity over the last eight years or so is about moving the ball, so I don’t expect them to stray from that.”
While the primary aim of any competitive match is to win, that rarely happens without a commanding performance, and in the Currie Cup, like any other tournament, you can’t have one without the other.
“There’s no magic lamp, you try from a detail aspect to be on the money. You also want to tick boxes as far as mental and physical preparation go.
“And then Saturday has to take care of itself because if you stress about every little thing you won’t sleep for half the week. Ultimately, once the players run out onto the field, it’s up to them.”
Competition for places helped by depth in all positions has opened the window of opportunity for many players to assert themselves in a competition, or get the call-up to play in one of the two concurrent tournaments. This development can only produce positive outcomes.
“The entire coaching set-up could see that Marius Louw played two good games in the Currie Cup and was called up and he played well in the URC,” Fynn explained. “Curwin Bosch was excellent against Western Province and he was called up, as was Sikhumbuzo Notshe who had an amazing game after being out for so long.
“What it has done is to create a real understanding within the entire playing group that the opportunity is there if they perform. And likewise, if you don’t perform, there are guys who are hungry. So it really works: it works for the franchise and it works for the competitions.
“Ultimately sport is all about performance and guys know that if they perform, there will be opportunities and there’s no greater carrot than that.”