The Star Late Edition
Sharks add Fassi X-factor
WHEN Joey Mongalo was at Pretoria Boys High, he played Craven Week rugby for the Blue Bulls in 2003.
His coach happened to be Jimmy Stonehouse, the very same man who will head the Pumas against Mongalo’s Sharks in today’s Currie Cup match at Mbombela Stadium (5.05pm kick-off).
It is a coaching clash between an up-and-comer on the South African coaching scene and one of the veterans of the game.
Mongalo already has one up on his old mentor – his Sharks shocked the Pumas in Durban in round one of the competition.
“Going to Nelspruit is going to be tough. Coach Jimmy has been going strong there for a long time. He coached me when I was at Craven Week in 2003,” Mongalo said. “That is how long he has been coaching, and he has obviously done extremely well with the Pumas.
“Nelspruit is a critical part of rugby in South Africa because he gives guys a second chance,” Mongalo continued.
“There are guys from the Bulls, for example, playing well there under his tutelage.
“Jimmy is a good man and good for South African rugby, but on Friday, it is revenge that will be on his mind after we beat them in Durban five weeks ago.”
Mongalo’s men have won three matches in a row, and he opted for as much consistency in selection as possible when announcing his team yesterday.
For this match, Aphelele
Fassi is the only United Rugby Championship (URC) star he has brought back into the starting line-up after the URC side lost in the play-offs last week.
“Fassi is very good in the air, he has a good left foot, plus X-factor on attack,” the coach explained.
“More than that, he is a guy who has bought into the culture of this Currie Cup team – tough men who want to be organised and are difficult to play against. That is why he is playing.”
Mongalo adds that the mood in his team is one of “quiet confidence”.
“It feels like the first round was a pre-season, and now in the second round, we want to build a head of steam towards the back-end of the competition.
“The team is in a decent place in that we have some good momentum and cohesion. We have had consistency in team selection as well, which is a good thing.
“We will not fall into the trap of complacency because that breeds failure.”