DURBAN – Veteran Sharks winger Odwa Ndungane, with over 90 Currie Cup games to his name and nine Tests for the Springboks, is more than qualified to speak about the current team which plays the Cheetahs at Kings Park this Saturday.
The 35-year-old player took time off to talk about the young players, the style of play, last week’s Currie Cup game against Western Province and Saturday’s clash
He feels confident that the team is on the right track, and aside from the seven point loss to Province, they will look to continue to grow their game.
“We’ve had a good start, besides the disappointing result from last weekend, but we have the same bunch of guys from Super Rugby, the same management and continuity plays a big part. Having the same systems in place gives a lot of confidence.”
He explained that the ball in hand approach they have embraced in the Currie Cup came about after analysing their Super Rugby tournament and figured out where they needed to go.
“We took a look at what worked and what didn’t work and felt that we could have used the ball a bit more; we didn’t play what was in front of us, so there was a mind shift,” he explained.
“You can’t compare the two competitions, the intensity is different, but in the Currie Cup you have just that little more time to make decisions and we’ve started off quite nicely playing with more ball in hand.”
As to the youngsters in the team, he believes a rosy future lies ahead – for the youngsters as well as the team.
“Curwin Bosch was at school last year and with the other youngsters, brings a lot of excitement; they play what’s in front of them, they haven’t been programmed to play a certain way.
“Most flyhalves who have been in the system too long they play to a particular style. These are special players, we’ve seen that. It’s exciting to see what’s in store and I’m looking forward to see them grow from strength to strength.”
Although a senior player with vast experience, he doesn’t want his own role to become too mentoring, and as with the argument above, he would prefer to see them develop at their own pace, in their own way.
“I don’t want to hold their hands too much, I want them to express themselves and if things get out of hand, you have to say something. But they are a special bunch of players who bring so much x-factor and excitement into the team.”
With a smile he adds: “Maybe I can learn from them not to worry too much.”
After Saturday’s loss to Province, the Sharks know that this weekend’s home game against Free State at Kings Park takes on great importance, not only for the log but to get back to winning ways.
“We’ve had a look at what went wrong in Cape Town and we’ve learned so much from that,” he explains of the fact that you learn more from a loss than a win. “We’ve looked at what we need to fix and get right and we’re looking forward to the match.
“We didn’t start very well and they put us under pressure with what we felt were two soft tries. When we analysed the game we saw that when we built phases, we lost possession which took all the pressure off Province.
“We showed a lot of potential and character to fight back and had we sneaked a try at the end, we could have forced a draw. So there are a lot of positives we can take out of that game.”
Looking at their opponents, he admits that the second-placed Cheetahs are going to come to Durban with plenty of confidence, now the only remaining unbeaten side in the Currie Cup.
“This weekend’s game is going to be tough. They’ve won four out of four, it’s more or less the same team from Super Rugby and we expect a huge game. It’s a top of the table clash with a lot at stake, for both sides, but these are the games we love to play.”
– African News Agency