“We Back Our Pack And We Back Our Scrum” – Ox Nche


The Cell C Sharks face their historic first taste of Heineken Champions Cup this weekend when they host English giants Harlequins at Hollywoodbets Kings Park on Saturday.

Cell C Sharks prop Ox Nche, reflecting on an entirely new challenge that faces his team, explained in the lead-up to Saturday’s clash with Harlequins that the team is excited about Saturday’s first foray into this prestigious competition.

“The mood in the camp is great, everyone is working hard, everyone feels that they have something to prove because we want to show that we belong in the Heineken Cup. So there’s a lot of positivity and energy around.”

Something that certainly contributes to how the squad is feeling is that they’re back to full strength with every fit and able man now available for selection, with all Springbok commitments now over for the year.

“We’re really excited to have all the experienced players back, but it’s all about getting on the same page mentally because it’s going to take a squad effort to win this competition.

“We also have guys in the team who are keen, they want to play and make a name for themselves, so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

General challenges aside, one specific challenge with be the scrum battle, a facet of the game that both South African and English sides pride themselves on. After a dominant display against the Ospreys last week, Nche admitted that this week the scrumming will again be a big focus for himself and his fellow forwards.

“As a pack and specifically the front row, it’s important for us to set up a base for our backs which is what we tried to do against Ospreys, to give them the liberty to play with quality ball.

“We are feeling confident, we back our pack and we back our scrum, so it’s going to be a good challenge.”

Harlequins, currently third on the English Premiership log took the Champions of England title in 2021 and Nche admits that this is an opportunity to gauge where his team stands in relation to other top teams.

“Harlequins have had two good seasons now which makes this a good challenge for us. To be playing in the Heineken Champions Cup will show us if we belong with the best in the world.

“They have a good, experienced pack, they score a lot of their tries striking from set-piece and they work hard around the field, so most of their tries are scored within three phases or less, which is similar to what we’ve experienced in the URC where the European sides rely a lot on their set-piece.

“Harlequins also run a lot with the ball, they have a very attacking mindset but they’re also unpredictable, kicking when you expect them to run, or running when you expect them to kick. They’re a team willing to take risks.

“So from our side, we have to try upset them right at the start by putting pressure on their set-piece and interrupting the quality ball a dangerous player like Andre Esterhuizen looks for.”