The Cell C Sharks come off an important win over the weekend, but know that even at home, they face a huge challenge when they host Ulster at Hollywoodbets Kings Park in a rescheduled round 6 Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash on Saturday.
For the Cell C Sharks, building on the win against the Emirates Lions last weekend and the development of a team missing its Springboks is vital to their progress, explains centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg.
Reflecting on the importance of that big victory to the team’s state of mind, he explains that, “It’s massive, really, really big. Confidence is everything with regards to this squad. We are missing a number of players, but that’s no excuse whatsoever because we have quality players who want to perform and achieve higher honours and we have to keep each other accountable to those standards.
“Regardless of who is in the team or who is missing, the squad we have is good enough to perform and put quality performances together.
“There’s a big onus on taking responsibility, especially after the Stormers game. We reflected on that and what this team stands for, and everyone is putting their best foot forward. It’s exciting for the Sharks brand, for what we want to achieve.”
Ulster return to Durban after the round 6 clash, scheduled to be played in late October but called off after a gastro outbreak in their camp. What are his expectations of a team missing Irish internationals?
“Regardless of whether they lose a few players or not – and they definitely will lose some – it’s Ulster and we know they will always put out a strong team.
“So regardless of whether they send a first or second string team, it’s important for us to be up for it on Saturday. We were against the Lions even if there are a lot of things we need to fix this week, but we know we have to pitch up on Saturday against Ulster. That’s the most important thing for us.”
Having previously spent a big chunk of his career playing for Sale Sharks in the UK, his knowledge of and experience playing the northern hemisphere sides is a big boost for the Cell C Sharks.
“It was a great experience playing there for nearly five years, but adapting to the conditions there was massive for me, whether it was cold, wet or even playing in snow. That’s all really helped me here, especially in terms of my game management and being able to see when and where we need to play at different times in games. And then helping the boys in the midst of a tough match.
“It was a good opportunity to learn, where I could develop my game and look deeper into what I can work on; it really helped me.”
He reflects on the importance riding on the outcome of this match; playing a team riding high on the log, his own team with a game in hand to play catch-up, and overall log positions as the tournament heads for the knock-out stages.
“It’s a great opportunity for us because they’re coming here to Hollywoodbets Kings Park, to our home turf and it’s important that we have a good record at home. Playing a quality side like Ulster, it’s so important that we’re mentally prepared. If this is a big game for them , it’s massive for us, especially with the log positions and where we can potentially go in the next few games.
“That’s a great motivator behind this game and the boys know exactly what is needed to perform.”