Facing the Challenge – Featured Durban Blog

Facing the Challenge:

The Cell C Shark are back in action this week after a bye when the team travels to Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit to take on the Phakisa Pumas at the halfway point of the pool stages of this year’s Currie Cup competition.

Cell C Sharks assistant coach Nick Easter believes the team is in a better position to play the Pumas than they were Griquas a few weeks ago, but acknowledges the work that still lies ahead.

“Every team is in a good position now. We had a good week last week, a bit of fun, but we also used that for some conditioning, an opportunity we hadn’t had between Super Rugby and the Currie Cup. So without that preparation in a truncated competition like we have, it was important that we used the bye week effectively and got what we wanted out of it because it is such a short competition. It’s about how we managed the players that’s going to be so important.”

Following the deep disappointment of the opening game against Griquas, the team got a lot right in the next match, defeating Western Province 32-27 at JONSSON KINGS PARK.  What was different?

“To be perfectly honest, it was a work-rate thing; it always comes back to that,” Easter explains.

“Even if you want to win the collisions and the physical contact, you have to work hard. That gives you more time and space to do and see things. We just didn’t have that against Griquas, but we put that behind us. It was a pretty stark and harsh video session on the Monday, everyone was responsible for it. 

“I don’t think there was any issue around getting the energy levels and emotional intensity ramped up for Province, the important thing is providing that every single week. Top rugby sides do.

“If the result comes down to a side playing better than you, or luck, that’s fine, but don’t leave yourself wanting from the point of view of work rate.”

Taking on the Pumas presents a different challenge, not only on the field but also in the players’ heads as they raise themselves for the contest that lies ahead.

“That’s the challenge top level sportsmen face: staying in the now, in the moment and concentrating on the process, not the outcome; it doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” Easter points out.

He adds that the danger presented by the Pumas is that they have been close in all three games they’ve played. “The match against Griquas could have gone either way and I thought they were arguably the better team in their game against the Lions in their first game.

“Close losses will only spur them on to greater efforts. They are a team that has been there or thereabouts in every game and will know they are close to a first victory in the tournament.

“They will know what they might need to work on tactically and technically or game-plan-wise, and that makes them dangerous.”

For the Cell C Sharks, it’s about building on the team’s accomplishment against Province.

“This week is very important for us because we didn’t play over the weekend and a week off is big in any competition because sides can struggle to hit their straps again. We have to make sure we, as coaches, get training right, then put the players under pressure so that when they do get to what is a difficult place to play, they’re not shocked by it. 

“It’s also about carrying through the confidence we have and the vibe which will continue to grow within the squad, as well as with the right results.”

The post Facing the Challenge appeared first on Sharks Rugby.

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