An action-packed, exciting Carling Currie Cup clash awaits Hollywoodbets Kings Park this evening when the Cell C Sharks host Toyota Free State in an eagerly-anticipated clash between two of the top teams in the tournament.
Back at home against the table-topping Cheetahs, and following their loss to the Blue Bulls at Loftus last week, Cell C Sharks head coach Etienne Fynn feels it unnecessary to place any pressure on the fixture against their unbeaten opposition by suggesting they have their backs against the wall this week.
“I’m hesitant to call this match a must-win, every match is to be taken on its merits and you want to come out with a positive result at the end of it. We go out to win and there are opportunities with Free State and if we take them, we should have a positive result.”
With the Bulls having loaded their team with URC players last week and identifying playing top opposition as must-win games in the Currie Cup, the Cell C Sharks coach felt that his side needs no propping up with players in the URC team.
“I told the pack of forwards after captain’s practice that there’s not one of them who couldn’t be picked for URC this Saturday, so we have a decent side with quality individuals. It doesn’t matter the opposition, what does matter is the intent of these individuals.
“Guys like Fez Mbatha, Dian Bleuler, Hyron Andres, James Venter, they’ve all played at the highest [franchise] level , they’re proper rugby players.
“Concerning URC versus Currie Cup, The Sharks approach is trying to put the most competitive teams on the field every time. The fact that we’re playing two games in a week makes it tough and there’s a balancing act with some guys having to double up. But that’s just the nature of the situation we’re in.”
Having retained the same pack with backline changes, Tito Bonilla missed last week’s game due to a stomach complaint, but returns with big expectations.
“Tito is a test player, he’s played for his country, he’s played in the premiership in England and he’s a quality individual,” Fynn pointed out. “We’re expecting a quality, polished performance from him, driving the game.”
With Dylan Richardson back in action, Fynn also believes his loose forward will make an important contribution this week after missing out for some time.
“Dylan is itching to go, he’s been out for a while with a succession of unfortunate injuries and he’s chomping at the bit to get stuck in.”
The Cheetahs boast two stand-out players in South African rugby, Frans Steyn and captain Ruan Pienaar who both came through the Cell C Sharks and emerged as real stars before embarking on overseas careers and then returning to the province of their birth.
But Fynn pointed out that the duo aren’t their team’s only strengths.
“Free State are privileged in terms of the consistency of their selection which is why we’ve started with the same pack, which builds confidence,” he explained.
“What they also have is quality individuals which they rely on to drive their came. They’ve also gone with an interesting selection and I think they’re going to try move us around.
“We expect a traditional Free State approach of a free-flowing game. They’re polished and that comes from training and playing consistently together.”