The Cell C Sharks will be looking to strike against the Rebels in this weekend’s showdown with the Aussies at JONSSON KINGS PARK in our return to Vodacom Super Rugby action.
Two losses – against South African opposition – threw a spanner in the works after two good wins (against the Sunwolves and Blues) in the opening two weeks, but this match against the Rebels provides the perfect opportunity to get our campaign back on track.
“There’s been a lot of introspection and soul-searching and there is a lot of work happening behind the scenes,” explains Cell C Sharks assistant coach Ricardo Loubscher. “But despite the disappointment of losing to the Vodacom Bulls, there’s a good vibe in the camp.”
He admits that the team is all they are focusing on right now. “There are things we want to fix so it’s going to be a big week for us.”
Dropping a home game is simply out of the question and the Rebels, playing great rugby and oh so near to a big upset win over the Emirates Lions, will come to Durban looking to make amends for conceding a 33-5 lead and eventually going down 36-33.
But first, the Australian outfit will have to overcome a determined Cell C Sharks side.
“We want to get out there, the boys can’t wait to get onto the field again, in front of our home fans. We have a score to settle in this competition – we want to get back to winning ways again.”
Reflecting on a great start with two emphatic wins, he acknowledges that the Cell C Sharks were undone in the two derby games against the DHL Stormers and the Vodacom Bulls, the local matches always proving to be the hardest.
“Derby games are always tough and physical and looking back at those two games, the Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers put us under a lot of pressure and then played off our mistakes. So we, as the coaches, have come up with a plan on fixing that. That’s why this week is all about ourselves; we want to get back to winning ways.
“Looking back at those two games, it was the big moments when we were under the pump, not clinical enough and it was the small mistakes that put us under pressure.”
Aside from the Lions loss, the Rebels’ recent form is impressive indeed. They won the first of their three matches and are currently the top performing Australian side and third on the overall tournament log. And Loubscher acknowledges just what lies ahead.
“They have huge experience at 9 and 10 with Will Genia and Quade Cooper, but we won’t be focusing on individuals. As a team, they will be a handful on attack so we’re going to have to make sure we bring our A-game defensively and then come up with a plan on attack, how we will look to exploit them.”
He points out that there is a focused determination from the team to make things right this weekend.
“In our meetings, the boys have shown determination to get back on the winning trail and although you’d ideally want to fix that immediately, we had the bye. But it’s been a chance to rest and re-energise and now we’re looking forward to this week.
“It’s a massive week for us, we’re looking forward to a really big game.”