Braced for battle royale
Sport24 columnist Monde Hadebe (Gallo Images)
I’ve really enjoyed the experience of this season’s Currie Cup. The fact that the competition clashes with Springbok duty means that a lot of the younger players have been given an opportunity to excel. It was a big privilege whenever I wore the No 2 jersey.
While I’m disappointed not to be part of the match 22 for the final, I’m sure my time will come. At the Sharks there’s certainly competition for places at hooker, but that’s great as performance-wise when you get an opportunity you know you have to match up.
As a team, I feel we’ve grown with each game this season. It’s been an eventful road, but I think that this campaign’s proved more progressive than anything else. The returning Springboks have added a lot of maturity, while the youngsters have grown into their roles and matched the Boks in terms of performance levels.
Turning to our opponents this Saturday, Western Province is also a team on the rise. They have a side full of youngsters who are matching up to the more seasoned campaigners. Like us, they have been building game-by-game and I feel they are a very dangerous opponent. We certainly have to be up and ready for them come kick-off time.
It’s finals rugby, so it’s difficult to say exactly where Western Province will look to target us. Finals rugby is about taking every opportunity you are presented with. That said, they showed against the Lions in the semi-final that their driving line-out works to good effective. On attack, they have a number of Springboks in their backline, so I see them varying their game in the Shark Tank.
We have already done our preparation in terms of analysis and have identified the key tactics and players they are likely to be making use of. In the final, the reality is that you just have to punch back harder than your opponent.
We will take positives out of the impending wet weather as we have played other teams in the wet in the recent past in Durban and results have gone our way. But at the same time we won’t just relax on the day because of that fact.
The tight-five battle is always so important, as without a solid foundation the team can’t gather much momentum. We both have Springboks in our packs, so the forward battle is probably where the game will be decided. As a team we have put a lot of emphasis on dominating the collisions as in the past we have been bullied a bit. If you win the physical collisions you gain yards and momentum.
As long as our phase-play is on par, I’m sure our backline will see a lot of the ball, and do well on attack. Pat Lambie is a great player to have in our side. He is a wonderful talent and his game has really grown in the last couple of years. He’s always on the money, which makes it that much easier for the players around him to perform their tasks to the best of their abilities.
The guys have looked very calm and relaxed at training this week, which shows real confidence and definitely not any arrogance. The atmosphere in Durban this week has been amazing and the guys are really excited for the opportunity to play in another final. Finals rugby is about enjoying each moment as much as you can.
I’ll be watching the game from the stadium and I’m predicting a 12-point Sharks win. Monde Hadebe was educated at Westville Boys’ High. He debuted for the Sharks in the 2011 Currie Cup, having previously captained the Sharks’ Under-21 side.
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