Rugby news from KwaZulu-Natal:
Consistency and Accountability:
An honest review by the Cell C Sharks, from management to players, of the Vodacom Super Rugby performance against the Jaguares last week has seen the team take ownership of both the result and the solution.
It wasn’t so much the result as the performance that followed a deadly dismantling of the Lions the previous week that is so perplexing. A team does not suddenly become a substandard one in the course of the week.
Head coach Robert du Preez has admitted in the lead-up to the Reds match at JONSSON KINGS PARK on Friday afternoon that taking responsibility for fixing things is everyone’s duty.
“We had a good discussion in the changeroom after the game, first and foremost the accountability starts with me and with the coaching team but it’s everyone’s responsibility and accountability, from management to players,” he explained as the team look to produce a rousing performance before heading to Australia.
Although there were a few changes to the team to play the Reds, consistency in selection remains. Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi have been rested to follow Springbok workload protocols, while there is a return for fellow Springboks Beast Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen and Sbu Nkosi.
“The decision was to give the players an opportunity at righting things,” said the coach of the fact that minimal changes were effected. “We couldn’t single out any individuals who had performed badly, the team as a whole performed badly. This is an opportunity for them to rectify it on Friday.”
With the Cell C Sharks boarding a plane this weekend for Sydney to take on the Waratahs next Saturday, this match against the Reds takes on the status of a must-win. While there is no need to panic, there is every desire to leave local shores with a good win and a comprehensive performance under our belts.
“It has to be an absolute obsession of ours to win this game on Friday,” said du Preez. “As it is, the boys have responded well this week. It was a disappointing performance although no player goes out onto the field to intentionally perform badly.
“But in this competition, if you’re five percent off the mark on the day and you play a quality team, that’s what happens.
“We’ve looked at everything from mental preparation, starting with myself, and we also looked at technical, tactical issues, conditioning. The previous week we had a fantastic performance (against the Lions), then we come out and deliver what’s not good enough.”
From the players’ perspective comes the commitment to show that last week’s match was an anomaly.
“Everyone, every single player, is excited about the opportunity to rectify what happened last week,” said wing Lwazi Mvovo. The boys have trained very well this week and we realize that we’ve let a lot of people down, not just ourselves but also the fans who come out to watch us week in and week out. We owe it to them to be better
“Playing at home, and on the eve of the tour, it’s important that we show our fans what we’re made of.”
Looking to Refocus:
Springboks Coenie Oosthuizen and Tendai Mtawarira return to the starting line-up to play the Reds on Friday afternoon at JONSSON KINGS PARK.
It’s been a tough few days of introspection for the team following a disappointing showing against the Jaguares and the team has the opportunity to right the wrongs on Friday.
The Springbok pair replace Juan Schoeman and Thomas du Toit, who move to the bench. The other change in the pack sees Jacques Vermeulen back from a well-earned break and he is in at flank for Luke Stringer.
There are changes in the backline where Kobus van Wyk replaces Lukhanyo Am and forms a new midfield partnership with Andre Esterhuizen while Lwazi Mvovo moves across to the wing position vacated by Makazole Mapimpi with Sbu Nkosi returning to the side in the final change to the starting line-up. Both Am and Mapimpi have been rested for this match.
Cell C Sharks assistant coach Braam van Straaten has been honest in his appraisal of last week’s game, admitting that, “This is not how we want to play, not what we want to show our fans who come here to watch us perform to the best of our abilities and that’s not how we can reward them for their support.
“We didn’t pitch, mentally we weren’t there and got beaten up at every opportunity,” he added. “We didn’t face up and that’s the disappointing part of it.”
“The senior players have taken ownership and come Friday, I think it will be a different story.”
There is a short turnaround week for the team because of the Friday game and van Straaten admitted that it was important to get over the disappointment of the Jaguares game and focus on the Reds.
“We’re going to have to be really, really on top of our game. They’re a good side, coached by an ex-All Black and they’re a tough side to break down. We will be up for the challenge.”
The Cell C Sharks
- Beast Mtawarira
- Kerron van Vuuren
- Coenie Oosthuizen
- Ruben van Heerden
- Hyron Andrews
- Philip van der Walt
- Jacques Vermeulen
- Daniel du Preez
- Louis Schreuder (c)
- Robert du Preez
- Lwazi Mvovo
- Andre Esterhuizen
- Kobus van Wyk
- Sbu Nkosi
- Curwin Bosch
- Fez Mbatha
- Juan Schoeman
- Thomas du Toit
- Tyler Paul
- Jean-Luc du Preez
- Cameron Wright
- Marius Louw
- Aphelele Fassi