More history will be made for the Hollywoodbets Sharks as they venture into their first EPCR Challenge Cup campaign this weekend when they host Section Paloise at Hollywoodbets Kings Park on Saturday.

Hollywoodbets Sharks attack coach Dave Williams is excited about the new challenge and believes the players are ready for the new tournament.

“We had quite a reflective review after last week, but the response has been outstanding with their commitment to the cause and what they’re looking to implement this weekend, so it’s been a productive week,” he explains.

Although the last two months have been relentless in terms of the demands on the team in the Vodacom United Rugby Challenge, including four weeks away from home, a new challenge brings renewed optimism.

“There’s a lot of excitement about a new campaign,” he admits. “The Challenge Cup is a great competition with different opposition and everyone is looking forward to it all, there’s even a new jersey so the guys are excited for this challenge.”

Section Paloise, also known as Pau, bring strong opposition, given the good run they’ve enjoyed in the French Top 14 premier league.

“We analyse each opponent and look at what they’ll bring to the game and where the point of pressure could be, and congrats must go to Pau and what they’ve achieved this season, not having as many internationals but some good overseas recruitment.

“They’re a really strong team but we’ve found areas where we feel we can target and build some pressure.”

Given that the Hollywoodbets Sharks have been involved in URC action for some time now, Williams explains that there is an adjustment they must make to counter the differences in approach and style they’re likely to encounter against their opponents.

“Traditionally the French teams play with a lot of flair and the game can break up, and we as the Hollywoodbets Sharks are building to play in that kind of destructured environment.

“Strangely enough though, in analysing Pau, there is an English way about them, their nine and ten have brought a lot of knowledge across from England and they’re a very disciplined team.

“When the game breaks up, they also have the ability to excite which is something we are also looking to do so it should be a great contest in that area of the game.”  

Given the ups and downs the team has endured in recent weeks, Williams believes that the team has it in them to get through this period in a positive way.

“Within the organisation, we can see growth and it’s about finding the consistency to deliver that performance. I think that freshening up the squad with four new guys brings a lot of energy and it’s a reward for them and for how they’ve trained and recovered from their injuries.

“Our aim is to deliver performances that win games, week after week and this is a great comp for us to go deep, a comp that means a lot to the players and this organisation.”