Welcome 2018 – Featured Durban Blog

Welcome 2018:

The Cell C Sharks have returned to the training pitch last week, following the Christmas break as they prepare for Vodacom Super Rugby 2018 in earnest, having put in the hard yards after the conclusion of the 2017 rugby season.

“We had a four week pre-season, before the break, and it proved to be a great four weeks,” head coach Robert du Preez confirmed. “The boys worked really hard with a big emphasis on keeping the pre-season a lot more rugby-related. I think the players enjoyed it although we did take them out their comfort zone, so there was no status quo as far as how things have been done in the past.

“But they adapted well and they’ve enjoyed their pre-season. The boys then went on a three week break over Christmas before returning to training.”

As far as the players’ conditioning goes, he said he was encouraged by their commitment and hard work.

“I’m very pleased with that aspect, although there is still a lot of work to do. They’ve worked hard, came back nice and refreshed and ready for what we have to do now.”

The squad boasts great depth but obviously managing players and their individual workloads is going to be vital.

“We try monitor all the individual players. Coenie Oosthuizen is going to have been out for about nine months when he returns from injury, which means he’ll probably miss the Vodacom Super Rugby at this stage. Jean-Luc du Preez had an op on his ankle and conservative estimates are that he’ll be back for the trip to Australia and New Zealand.

“We have also monitored the guys who came back from Japan; Stephan Lewies has a hip pointer injury but he’s looking in the best shape he’s ever been in. Lwazi Mvovo and Philip van der Walt will join us next Monday. Andre Esterhuizen is playing a promotion-relegation match so he will be back later. New signing, Makazole Mapimpi joins us from the Cheetahs on Monday.”

There is always a fear that the players who return from their Japanese stints might be overworked, but du Preez explained that with the overseas player ruling in Japan, the workload is not overbearing. “They haven’t played too much rugby and the players are disciplined and hard-working. We have no issues there.”
New faces in the coaching set-up include former Sharks and Springbok centre and coach Dick Muir as well Springbok flyhalf Braam van Straaten who is now in charge of defence and kicking.
“It’s great to have people like that here, with great experience. Dick’s presence here was much-needed, he adds balance.”

Talking balance, the coach will have a pleasant selection headache at flyhalf where Curwin Bosch has been the incumbent since the departure of Pat Lambie. But now Robert du Preez junior has returned to the Cell C Sharks and will make it a real family affair, alongside his twin brothers Jean-Luc and Daniel.

“Rob and Curwin have really worked well together,” the coach explained. “For the first time in my two years here, we have a squad where there won’t be any complacency because there’s so much competition in the team – which is what you want. Everyone is going to have to work hard to get into the starting line-up. But it’s a long season and we’re going to have to carefully consider how we give everyone an opportunity to play.

“Our success will hinge on using the squad effectively.”

Next week will be game week ahead of the Bulls warm-up match, and then the squad travel to Hong Kong for the game against the French side Racing.

The Cell C Sharks squad will comprise 30 players for the Bulls game, with a view to giving each player 40 minutes each. 26 players will make the trip to Hong Kong.

“We’re looking at different combinations, but we have a good idea who will be playing where. These first two games is more about the game time and I don’t think we’ll be too far off with the way we’ve prepared. “

The post Welcome 2018 appeared first on Sharks Rugby.

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