There will be a positive reaction from the Sharks to their poor Currie Cup performance against the Pumas when they travel to the unbeaten Cheetahs on Saturday (2pm), with coach Etienne Fynn promising that “rustiness’ is an excuse for one game but not for two.”
Fynn was alluding to the month break from rugby his Currie Cup team had before losing 20-10 to the Pumas and he adds that after self-reflection from himself and each of the players, the Sharks are up for the challenge of inflicting a first defeat on the Free Staters.
“You will definitely see a positive reaction from us,” Fynn said after naming a team that has six changes to the pack that failed against the Pumas. “The guys were emotionally buried on Monday but have trained well this week. After embracing what we did wrong against the Pumas.
“We did not stick to our game plan but it is not just about that,” he said. “There is also individual role execution with the greater plan — individuals must stick to their roles otherwise it is never going to work, and we had positive reactions from the guilty parties.”
Much of the Cheetahs’ success is centred on the clever game management by their former Springboks Ruan Pienaar and Francois Steyn and Fyn says his team has to unsettle the veterans.
“We have to put them under pressure and force those big players to make poor decisions,” the coach emphasized. “We have to bring the heat we know how important those guys are to their cause. We have to unsettle them, we have to make sure the quality ball they get is disrupted.”
Also crucial is maintaining concentration for the entire 80-minutes because the Cheetahs are masters at turning up the heat at vital times of the game, and are exceptional in closing out games.
“The Cheetahs know how to turn it on and open and close the tap,” Fynn warned. “They manage games well. They do the throttle game — they suddenly, turn you, put you back, and force you into mistakes.
In the changes to the pack, Khwezi Mona, Fez Mbatha and Lourens Adriaanse replace the previous week’s front row of Dian Bleuler, Kerron van Vuuren and Wiehahn Herbst, while Emile van Heerden takes over from lock Ruben van Heerden and flanker Dylan Richardson and No 8 Mpilo Gumede replace James Venter and Sikhumbuzo Notshe respectively.
Sharks – 15 Nevaldo Fleurs, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Jeremy Ward (c), 12 Murray Koster, 11 Anthony Volminck, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Mpilo Gumede, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Emile van Heerden, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Substitutes: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Blaine Golden, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Nick Hatton, 21 Mthokozisi Mkhabela, 22 Tito Bonilla, 23 Ethan Fisher.