The Cell C Sharks arrived back home from New Zealand for a bye week off and haven’t wasted the opportunity to rest and refocus ahead of Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby derby clash with the Emirates Lions at JONSSON KINGS PARK.
“Being back at home is fantastic, seeing your family and being back with your loved ones, so it’s nice to be back in Durban,” Cell C Sharks prop Coenie Oosthuizen admitted in the build-up to this weekend’s match.
Reflecting back on the three matches in Australia and New Zealand, he commented that the team was in a good place. “Our spirit is very high. In two of the games on tour we should have pulled through, but things didn’t go our way and we were a bit unlucky, but the spirit in the camp overall is fantastic.
“We know we had the opportunities to pull those games through and we know what we need to do to fix those things.”
The Cell C Sharks have played well away from home which is something the team has been scrutinising. The results on the road, particularly on tour, have shown that this is a team more than capable of beating the best. This weekend is an opportunity to show that they can do it anywhere.
“I don’t think any rugby player pitches up wanting to lose a game, or wanting to play badly,” he said.
“I don’t know why we’ve struggled to get started at home, but it is something we’ve addressed; obviously we’re not blind to our mistakes. We’ve had a deep look at ourselves to try to rectify those mistakes and there are a couple of things we know we could do better; this weekend we are going to be implementing them.
“We’ve had a lot of time to reflect after the tour, to see what we can do better, especially in our home games and there are things we will be doing from this game forward.”
When the Cell C Sharks have begun games with venom and passion, they have generally managed to pull ahead and place enough pressure on the opposition to ensure victory. It’s something they will look to keep doing.
“One of the things we’ve spoken about is starting well, that’s of massive importance. You can look at every aspect of a rugby game but if you don’t get off to a good start, you’re going to struggle throughout the game. We don’t want to fall behind and then have to chase the game.”
Looking to the Lions, he warned that despite playing the Crusaders in our last outing, this match presents even greater challenges.
“Derby games are your most physical games. People might think that the Crusaders and other New Zealand teams are your hardest opponents, but I personally feel that your home derbies are the toughest you’ll play. Because we play them so often, we know what is expected and what to expect from them.
“They also know how to get under your skin when it’s a local derby because you’ve been playing against most of them for some time already.
“We respect the Lions a great deal and we expect them to come out firing after the previous match. It’s definitely not going to be easy.”
He started the previous match between the sides, the 42-5 Cell C Sharks defeat of the Lions in early April. Would the loss be in the back of the Lions minds? He admits that the shoe has been on the other foot (his!) before.
“We’ve been in their position, in the exact same scenario before and yes, that previous loss is always there, but it also gives you more motivation.
“What it does is show what a team can do if they pitch up and you don’t, particularly in the first 20 minutes and you’re trailing by 20 points. I can’t see them making the same mistakes as last time, they will rectify them and we will need to step it up and be ready for a heck of a battle in those first 20 minutes.
“The Lions have a very strong forward pack, they are a top side as far as scrum success and scrum penalties go. We know exactly what to expect on Saturday.”