DURBAN – Ever jovial Sharks prop Coenie Oosthuizen is never short of a quaint turn of phrase in his dealings with the media and yesterday he was on top form as the team prepared to leave for Singapore where the Sunwolves lie in wait.
“My goals for the season? The same as my goals for life... enjoy myself and play for something bigger than myself,” Oosthuizen said with a philosophical smile. “To have fun because as soon as someone takes the laughter away, life becomes dark. I wasn’t laughing too much when I was out for a year with injury, so now I enjoy each and every game. Missing out is no fun.”
Nor will losing to the Sunwolves be for the Sharks. Oosthuizen agrees.
“For me, this game is like playing the Cheetahs away… a lot harder than people think,” Oosthuizen said. “The Sunwolves away is never easy. They can stop a pack at scrum time, they can maul. Underestimating them would be a huge mistake. We are not taking this game lightly. We have to start on a high. We can’t be coming back playing catch-up rugby.”
The Sharks don’t have a great deal of intelligence on the Sunwolves players so they will be looking to focus heavily on the basics of their own game.
“It takes about three rounds to get to know teams,” Oosthuizen said. “At the start, neither team has too much on the other. For us, as a Sharks unit we have worked on a couple of new things we want to add and how we want to play, but yes, the basics are going to be fundamental to our success as we don’t know them that well.”
We chatted to @CellC Sharks Captain, @LouisSchreuder before #OurSharks jetted off to Singapore ahead of their opening Vodacom @SuperRugby game against the @sunwolves and he is excited to kick off the campaign after a long pre-season.🏉#SHAvSUN #OurSharksForever 🦈 pic.twitter.com/bBzLvdohYW— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) February 12, 2019
Last week, the Sharks and Bulls were equally underwhelming in a friendly played in scorching heat in Ballito, but Oosthuizen says that game was ideal preparation.
“Playing in Ballito was extremely hot so we will be well prepared for Saturday’s conditions. It will be the same conditions for both teams, but we have ticked all the boxes. Mentally we are prepared. Pre-season we worked on every possible thing, the coaches really got into the nitty-gritty so it is exciting to finally have match week after all that prep,” he said.
Oosthuizen is a key member of the Sharks’ impressive front-row depth that includes fellow Springboks in Thomas du Toit and Akker van der Merwe.
“As a pack, we have the depth other teams strive to have,” Oosthuizen said. “The amount of talent we are sitting with is phenomenal, and that also goes for the backline. There are a lot of young players who can make you smile just by watching them, but at the same time they are in fact putting the seniors under pressure.
“The depth of our squad is going to contribute to our success this year, for sure. Our bench is going to be our strength. With everyone so willing to contribute, we are going to be a happy franchise.” In the short term, though, Oosthuizen is focused on the Sunwolves and getting the season under way.
“I can’t wait to get some mileage on these feet,” Oosthuizen said.@MikeGreenaway67