Sticking to the routine – Featured Durban Blog

Sticking to the routine:

Winning 10 matches on the run in this year’s Currie Cup did not come about by accident or luck, but by pure hard work and design, with the Cell C Sharks intent on continuing where they left off against the Blue Bulls in the last encounter.


This Saturday afternoon’s [2.30pm] Currie Cup home semi-final is a replay of the match a month ago, also at Growthpoint KINGS PARK, when the Cell C Sharks beat the Blue Bulls 18-5, and it will be a case changing nothing much for this game.


Cell C Sharks scrumhalf Michael Claassens admits as much, saying, “Preparation-wise, we won’t be changing much at all because then you tend to get nervous about executing something new on matchday.


“In play-off matches you only get limited opportunities, so you have to make sure you use them. You might only get two or three chances to get points and you have to take them when they present themselves, or if you create them.


Given last week’s hiccup loss to Western Province in, admittedly, a dead rubber when only Province had something rising on the result of the match, Claassens admitted that the mental switch this weekend is very firmly in the ‘ON’ position.


“We want to forget about last week and move on, go back to basics and to the things we did well the previous weeks.


“If you can’t turn up for a semi-final or final then you shouldn’t be playing rugby. I don’t think we’ll have the same problem we had last week, everyone is raring to go and ready to take on the Blue Bulls. There are a lot of young guys playing in their first Currie Cup semi-final, and we’re playing at home which makes it so much better.”


The Blue Bulls won’t be easy-beats and have a pedigree of successful rugby that they will want to draw on, while we will be using the confidence gained from topping the log to overcome the challenge from the Pretoria team.


“They are full of confidence, they’re playing well and in their last match, scored a lot of tries,” he explains. “But defence has been our strong point this season and we have to make sure we’re on top of that and work together as a team to neutralise their danger men and not give them too many easy opportunities to score points.”


Given the number of these young players in the team, there might be the suggestion that they need to be guided in the big match situation, the older, more experienced players needing to take on the responsibility of a mentoring role to provide direction and guidance ahead of the big game (or two big games depending on the outcome of this weekend’s knock-out clash).


However, Claassens has great faith in the big match temperament of the young players.


“Providing guidance for this weekend is not a lot more than previous weeks, it’s something we try to do throughout the season. We don’t force it on the younger guys, but they will come and talk to one of us and we try to lead by example. I don’t think it will be anything hugely different for them from anything they’ve played in before.


“The trick is also not to hype it up too much, to not make too big a thing of the occasion, rather we just want to go out there and treat this as a normal game and play as we normally do.”


Given the season this year, he believes that a big union like The Sharks should be featuring in finals more often than not.  “I think having come this far, we are on the right track, and the way we’ve played in the Currie Cup shows that as well.


“It would be massive for the union if we won the Currie Cup and a starting point for next year’s Super Rugby.”

The post Sticking to the routine appeared first on Sharks Rugby.

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