Preview: Cell C Sharks vs Ospreys

The Cell C Sharks have leant heavily on their returning Springboks for inspiration and impact ahead of tonight’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash with Ospreys at Hollywoodbets Kings Park.

With beautiful – if not hot – weather predicted for this game, the Cell C Sharks will look to deliver a commanding performance from everyone with non-playing Springboks Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi playing important roles behind the scenes.

“Guys like Siya and Eben were great for us this week, they had massive contributions and having those Boks back was really good to refocus us again and to make sure that we focus on the job at hand,” explained Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Neil Powell.

“Although they aren’t available for team selection, Siya and Eben have been at every training session, every team meeting this week and they’ve been huge for us. It’s been great to have all our Boks back, they’ve really brought a hunger for success and hopefully that rubs off on the rest of the squad.”

While the Cell C Sharks’ Welsh opponents have not enjoyed the fruits of their efforts in the first half of this URC edition, they will come to Durban full of intent.

“There are no easy games in this tournament, we realised that with Cardiff. We can’t just pitch up and think things will just happen for us. This is where we have to act on the words we’ve spoke this week,” Powell admitted.

“We’ve let ourselves down in our actions and our efforts on the field and we definitely have to make a step up. We can’t just pitch up against Ospreys who have won one game this season and think it’s just going to be a walk-over or an easy game.

“The message to the players this whole week is that we’re looking for effort and we’re looking for everyone to make it happen, without expecting it to happen by itself.”

Powell’s selections for this match have seen a new look loose-trio, with both Phepsi Buthelezi and Sikhumbuzo Notshe starting, having previously pushed each other for the eighthman jersey. Jeandre Labuschagne completes the back row.

Explaining the motivation behind this exciting development, Powell explained that, “It was important for us to try maximise the pack and to play either Phepsi or Sikhumbuzo just didn’t make sense. You want to have your best players on the field and that’s why we selected them both in the starting line-up.

“And Lappies really put his hand up in the warm-up match against the Cheetahs and we want to create an environment where players who train or play well are rewarded.”

There is also a long-awaited return to action for Curwin Bosch who has had a long spell on the injury list.

“Curwin has been training fully with us for the last two weeks and he’s really done well. What we’re looking for from him is to manage the game from a kicking and communication perspective, making sure we play in the opposition half.

“He’s very good at managing the game and we’ve seen it in this week’s preparations. It will be good to see how he goes.”

Tonight’s match at Hollywoodbets Kings Park kicks off at 7.10pm.

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