The Cell C Sharks and Brumbies have been involved in some epic tussles over the years, with the spoils fairly evenly-shared before the 20th Vodacom Super Rugby meeting between the two sides in Canberra on Saturday.
In fact last year’s Cell C Sharks victory, also in Canberra, swung the pendulum in our favour, taking us into a lead of 10 wins to the Brumbies’ nine. All that is history though, as is what has happened in the competition this year.
Both teams are looking to prove their mettle (and improve results) and the Brumbies, at home for the first time this year, will be looking to give their fans something to cheer about after two losses to Australian opposition in successive weeks.
Looking at the Brumbies pack, Cell C Sharks tighthead prop Thomas du Toit admits that his team faces a big battle on Saturday morning (10.45am kick-off).
“We, as a forward pack, need to front up against them,” he explains. “They have some strong, heavy guys and lots of experience, so the battle will be immense and tough at times. We hope to do our best against their forward pack.”
Last year’s 27-22 win will give the Cell C Sharks confidence that winning on the road is possible, as will the performance last week against the Sunwolves that saw us scoring a half century of points. Big scores in Vodacom Super Rugby are not the norm, but they do indicate that the winner has hit their straps, and this is something we are looking to replicate against the Brumbies.
Last year’s last gasp win when Lukhanyo Am scored the winning try in extra time after the teams were deadlocked on 22-apiece, was only the third win on Australian soil against the Brumbies. Saturday’s match will be the 12th meeting in Canberra.
Du Toit did not feature last week, due to a niggle, but is looking forward to making an impact this time round.
“Last week was an opportunity to rest my shoulder, I had a slight niggle there but I’ve been feeling much better this week and back to full training.”
His switch from loosehead to tighthead prop has been in the spotlight but he is adamant that it was a change he’d been looking for, that it certainly wasn’t thrust upon him unilaterally.
“I’ve wanted to play tighthead for some time now. In fact I did play there in my second year with the SA Under 20 side and a few games after that, so the plan was always to go permanently to tighthead.
“In recent times through, we needed a loosehead more than a tighthead which was the reason for me staying there. But now that I have the opportunity to play tighthead, it’s a definite focus and the last change I’m going to make.”
While the first round match against the Lions did not go our way, he believes that moving on is as important as taking lessons from the loss. But certainly not to be filled with dread.
“What I decided after that match was not to punish myself over one game that went badly, I couldn’t put myself down too much after the game. I couldn’t say I was a bad tighthead after one performance against a very good Lions front row.
“It wasn’t a perfect performance, but I worked hard on that the next two weeks so that I could rectify the mistakes. Right now I’m more excited to play than feel scared.”
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