Coach Robert du Preez has revealed how a ‘brother for brother’ theme drew the Sharks closer together as a team ahead of Saturday’s Currie Cup triumph, writes CRAIG LEWIS at Newlands.
The Sharks came into the 2018 domestic final as undeniable underdogs as they fronted up against an unbeaten Western Province side on their home ground.
Yet, despite trailing by six points at half-time, the Sharks gradually wore down an out-of-sorts Western Province team in the second stanza, with the visitors ultimately displaying greater composure in the big moments.
At the post-match press conference, Du Preez wore the expression of a coach who was utterly unsurprised by a result that most pundits hadn’t predicted.
‘I have to give credit to this group of players, and particularly [Currie Cup captain] Chiliboy [Ralepelle], who played a magnificent leadership role throughout the whole season.
‘We have had a theme over the past couple of weeks called “brother for brother”. It’s all about playing for each other, and the whole squad has to be commended for that. Province are a great team, so to come into their backyard and get the win is a fantastic achievement.’
Elaborating on the team theme, Du Preez suggested that it was a close-knit brotherhood that pulled the Sharks through a hard-fought final.
‘Juan Schoeman actually came up with it [the brother for brother theme] in a leadership meeting, and everyone bought into it. It was about the team coming first and the individual second. Again I must give credit to Chili, he played off the bench in the playoffs, but he has been just magnificent as a leader.’
Ralepelle said he was extremely proud of the way the Sharks had responded in the high-pressure environment of a final at Newlands.
‘The message and theme was quite simple, it’s about playing for one another. We wanted to become tighter when it’s tougher, and that’s what we had to do in this game.
‘When we didn’t have the ball, or were playing in our half, we stayed composed and kept our discipline. The thing is, when you make a mistake, you need to know your brother is there to help you out, but that you also need to show how much you want to fix the mistake.’
Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix