Cell C Sharks director of rugby Jake White is upbeat, excited and confident ahead of his team’s Vodacom Super Rugby derby against the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday and the chance to forge further ahead.
According to Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick, while the Cell C Sharks might have scored a bonus point win in the opening round match at Kings Park, they know the Bulls are a very different beast when they play at home. “The Bulls have a great record at Loftus, they’re a very different side to when they play away from home, it’s going to be a difficult game,” he admits. However, they know what to expect from the home side.
For the Bulls it’s about clinical execution before innovation. To always be good at the same things that have proven successful in the past.”It’s not that they play differently at home to enjoy such a successful record, they haven’t played differently for 30 years,” he observes. “We know what’s coming: Kicks from 9, kicks from 10, maul, a bit of variation. “Then kick from 9, kick from 10, maul. “That’s it.”
Dewald Potgieter has returned from Japan and will provide experience in the back row. “They’ve been tried a few things at 8th man, now they have him here; in four fixtures, they’ve selected four eighthman, he’s their fourth, they see it as an important role. “He will know exactly what his role is because that role hasn’t changed in the last umpteen years. “He will do exactly the same as what he did last year and the year before that.”
If they know what to expect from the Bulls, will the Bulls know what to expect from the Cell C Sharks? “We’ve been speaking about this first away game, it’s at altitude, it’s a hard ground, it’s a derby game and an opportunity to try some news things. “Not just because it’s the Bulls, but it’s the sixth week of the competition, our fifth game, and we probably need to evolve our game as we go along. “There are a couple of things we are going to bring in this week, and hopefully it will be difficult for the Bulls to read us as quickly as they would like.”
If the Bulls battle to prepare for possible unknowns, the Cell C Sharks are happy with their homework. “It’s easy to prepare against the Bulls,” says White. “You can take a video from last week, the week before, last year, five years ago. “You can probably click on any lineout and it’s exactly the same. “It’s really exciting for us, going up to the Highveld, playing a team we scored four tries against in Week One in Durban. “We’ll be playing on a nice, hard ground and we have guys like S’bura at outside centre, JP is playing his 100thgame, Lwazi is really quick, Ryan is a good athlete at 8, the same with Lewies in 2nd row.
“So there is an opportunity for us to really keep the ball alive and test their defence.” Winning four games in a row this season brings a certain amount of confidence in themselves and their record against the Bulls at Loftus is fairly successful which adds to the feel-good factor going into this game. “We are going up to Pretoria, we like playing there, we have done well there in the past, we’ve done well against this Bulls team.
“It’s a hard ground, we scored four tries in the first round so there is a massive amount of confidence. “I’m looking at it from all the positives: the glass is half full. “We’ve had a great start, a team that’s settled, some exciting youngsters who have joined us in Andre and Tim who I think can really add value and something different from what we gave the Bulls in Week 1.
“Hopefully we can build on that momentum.”