Odwa a calming influence on Sharks
Durban - One of the most experienced Cell C Sharks backline players, Odwa Ndungane with 107 Super Rugby caps, brings a certain calmness that only familiarity at this level can breed.
Having started the last four matches, and scoring a great try against the Lions - a diving catch of a crossfield kick from his flyhalf Patrick Lambie – his calmness under pressure is a vital ingredient that comes with contributing regularly over his decade-plus career in Durban.
"I’m definitely enjoying my contribution at the moment, I’ve had a few starts and obviously I’m grateful for the opportunity," he explains to Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.
"I’ll keep working hard and hopefully I still keep contributing positively to the team while enjoying myself."
After a pair of losses, it was important for the team’s confidence to win again, and their victory over the Cheetahs came at a vital time.
"It was a big win for us," he admits.
"It was tough being up and down, it was a disappointing start and not the one we wanted and we had to dig deep.
"Playing in Bloem is never easy and we’ve lost a few games down there and to go there and win convincingly with five points is definitely giving us a lot of confidence.
"This weekend we’re up against a Championship side with quality players but we know what we have in our squad too.
"We know our strengths, we’re preparing well and we’re looking forward to the challenge."
This weekend is the first time the Cell C Sharks meet a non-South African side this year which in itself is a challenge of a different kind after five successive South African derbies. In saying that, the Chiefs mix up physicality with explosive attacking rugby.
"The Chiefs have some quality players right through from 1 to 15 but we know what to expect.
"New Zealand teams’ outside backs are always pretty dangerous.
"We’ve been watching them and we know we’re up against tough opponents.
"It is a different challenge; they keep the ball a bit more than South African teams do.
"They stretch and test you on defence but we’re prepared for that and we’ve watched their videos so we know what’s coming."
The Sharks themselves are no mugs when it comes to physicality and attack, and this year have been vocal about their desire to play good rugby.
"We had a look at last year’s season and were quite disappointed when we looked at the try-scoring list and we were near the bottom," he points out.
"It’s disappointing when you have the quality we have in our squad, so this year we want to play entertaining rugby; but also be disciplined.
"We’re quite happy that we’re second on the try-scoring list – we worked hard in the preseason and its paying off so we’re quite happy where we’re at and where we’re going."
He admits that the win on Saturday against the Cheetahs is “massive” after the start they had. "But we’re glad it happened early rather than later, it was a wake-up call.
"We know we have games at home and they are massive for us.
"We need good results before we go on tour and this one is no different."