Back in Action – Featured Durban Blog

Back in Action:

The Cell C Sharks take on Union Bordeaux Bègles in the inaugural Durban Challenge at Moses Mabhida Stadium this evening hoping for a good performance in this crucial warm-up match ahead of the looming Currie Cup season.

With South Africa’s premier domestic rugby competition just around the corner, the Cell C Sharks were back at work last Thursday after a break following the conclusion of the team’s commitments in Vodacom Super Rugby.

“Our preparations have gone well after the two week break and there’s a great energy, this is a young squad with some really exciting players,” head coach Robert du Preez explains.

“We’ve had a good week and I’m really excited to see how these boys go.”

Although there have been player losses to the Springbok cause in The Rugby Championship as well as a number who have commitments in Japan, there is still a spine of experienced players the coach will call on and compose his team around for the upcoming Currie Cup season.

“Although our captain Chiliboy Ralepelle is 31 years old, the rest of the team are closer to 22 which is really exciting for the future of The Sharks. I’m also looking forward to those on the fringes getting some game time.

“A guy like Jeremy Ward has been very unlucky; he didn’t get to play Vodacom Super Rugby because Marius Louw did so well. Kobus van Wyk hasn’t had much game time and there are a couple other exciting players in the mix who have also trained very well.”

Despite the temporary loss of players, du Preez feels that the Cell C Sharks will still enjoy some continuity from Super Rugby.

“I think we will take a fair bit of continuity into the Currie Cup, this tournament is a very important campaign for us because we have the team to win it – I have no doubt about that. So for us, there’s a big focus on doing well and then take that momentum into Super Rugby next year.

“By the time the other boys join us, we will have really lifted the standard.”

Although it’s going to be a very different test for the Cell C Sharks playing a French side, after Vodacom Super Rugby and prior to the Currie Cup, but all the same, this is about getting a run against top quality opposition which Union Bordeaux Bègles are certain to present.

“French rugby is very attritional, it’s often about forward dominance with the conditions they play in, but we want to concentrate on what we want to do. It will be a good test for the boys against a very good team that they have. They have some experienced players, test players and we know this will be tough.

Playing in Moses Mabhida Stadium will be a novel experience for the team(s), but it’s something the coach admits excites the Cell C Sharks.

“It’s a magnificent stadium and the boys are really looking forward to playing there. They are so excited, the pitch is fantastic, what an occasion!”

Curwin Bosch hasn’t made the team, but that’s due to a minor injury that the coach confirms was not a fracture and he expected Bosch to be back in a few days. “That’s really good news for us.”

Jacques Vermeulen sustained a fracture against the Crusaders and is expected to be out for another six to seven weeks (a similar injury to Sbu Nkosi, the coach has confirmed).

The Cell C Sharks have big Currie Cup ambitions which will not only serve the side well in the short term, but into next year (and beyond).

“We had a strategy meeting last Wednesday and the goal to win the Currie Cup came from all of the players who believe we can,” says du Preez.

“It’s time we do. I’ve been really impressed with how the young leadership group have taken the bull by the horns, there’s great spirit in the team and the youngsters bring great energy.”

The match kicks off at 7pm with the Cell C Sharks Under 19s hosting the Golden Lions Under 19s in their SA Rugby U19 Championship curtain-raiser at 4.30pm

The post Back in Action appeared first on Sharks Rugby.

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