The Cell C Sharks’ Round of 16 knock-out against Munster at Hollywoodbets Kings Park offers the Durban team a shot at redemption as the Springbok-laden side looks to deliver the kind of performance they know they are capable of.
The team came together after a lengthy break for the international players and some rustiness was evident in last week’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash against the Scarlets, but Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Neil Powell said he is confident that his squad has had enough time together now to produce a commanding performance.
“I am confident that it will go a lot better than last Saturday,” Powell admitted in the lead-up to this game.
“That was the first game having our Boks back and you could see that the cohesion just wasn’t there, but we’ve had a good week of preparation and I am confident that the team will have a better performance on Saturday.
“The guys have closed the door on the performance last weekend, they know they let themselves down and they’re now looking forward to this game. They know it’s an opportunity to go out there and show what we’re capable of as a Sharks team, to take ownership and make the step up.
Motivating players for a knock-out game is almost unnecessary for a coach as the occasion is motivation enough and playing in front of a home crowd always lifts the team and players and provides enormous energy.
“This game is a must-win, it’s the knock-out stages and if you don’t win, you go home and you’re out of the competition. It’s important for us to go out there and perform the way we want to.
“It’s also great that we can host this Round of 16 game here at Hollywoodbets Kings Park, and we must use home ground advantage. We’re excited and take motivation from playing in front of our home fans and hopefully we can make it a successful weekend for Sharks rugby.”
Munster come to Durban n their first-ever visit to the coastal city, and not only with they have this novel experience to contend with, but so too the heat with the mercury expected to top 30°C.
“Munster is a really good team,” Powell admitted. “After a slow start to the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, they turned a corner. They’re a well-coached team that knows what they want to do and they put a lot more emphasis on the Heineken Cup tournament that most of the other teams.
“We’re expecting a huge onslaught from them, they will bring a lot of physicality and to do everything in their power to upset us.
“We are under no illusion that they’ll come here, bring the physical side and play a good brand of rugby.”
Saturday’s match kicks off at 1.30pm.