‘We want to play expansive game’

Sharks flank Marcell Coetzee talks to SARugbymag.co.za about their pre-season and Saturday's match against the Cheetahs at Kings Park.

What did the Sharks get out of last Thursday's match against Toulon?
We achieved what we wanted to achieve. The conditions weren’t great, so it was difficult getting our game plan together. In saying that, Toulon are a world-class team, so it was always going to be a tight match. Coming away with a win was a big confidence boost heading into Saturday's clash against the Cheetahs.

The Sharks played another warm-up game against two local club teams, but could you have used another game against top opposition?
I think the management did a very good job of easing us back into games after a tough pre-season. You don’t want to throw a team into the deep end. We played two very good club teams in Rovers and Collegians, which was perfect preparation for the Toulon game.

The Sharks spent most of the pre-season working with technical director Brendan Venter. What things did you work on with him?
Brendan has bought in a whole new brand of rugby this year. We want to play an expansive type of game. He’s been awesome in terms of putting the new structures in place, we train hard and get plenty of rest too. He’s a very balanced person and that approach is paying off for the team as a whole.

What has new Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold focused on since arriving from Japan?
Gary puts a lot of emphasis on the small details, those small margins that help you win matches. Small things such as good placement and being a second quicker than your opposition often decide games.

Will the Sharks play an expansive game against the Cheetahs on Saturday, considering how humid and slippery the ball is in Durban at this time of the year?
We have different game plans for different conditions, but would like to put a lot of emphasis on our expansive game plan on Saturday.

Where will the game against the Cheetahs be won or lost?
At the breakdown. We will also need to shut down their kick and chase game. They have good chasing lines and Willie Le Roux is a threat from the back. We just have to shut down those channels.

What are your thoughts on the Cheetahs loose forwards and the absence of Henrich Brüssow this weekend?
Brüssow is highly respected for the way he plays the game and the Cheetahs will miss him. But they still have very good loose forwards, including Willie Britz from the Lions. They won’t hold anything back and will want to prove a point. We will have to be on top of our game, as it's always a big battle in among the loose forwards in local derbies.

Interview by Nick Lambie

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Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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