Siya Masuku ‘must take charge’ of Sharks attack in Challenge Cup final

Flyhalf Siya Masuku has won the Player of the Match award in four of the Sharks’ last five games. Photo: BackpagePix

Flyhalf Siya Masuku has won the Player of the Match award in four of the Sharks’ last five games. Photo: BackpagePix

Published May 23, 2024


Siya Masuku’s rise from zero to hero as Sharks flyhalf has mirrored his team’s elevation from the URC canvas to the final of the Challenge Cup – but director of rugby Neil Powell is wary of putting too much pressure on him in tomorrow’s final against Gloucester.

“Siya has shown what he is capable of, and he must just play his normal game on Friday night,” Powell said.

“We want nothing more from him, and nothing less. He must take charge of the game, lead the attack and defence – but he mustn’t try too hard.”

Masuku got his chance in the Sharks’ game against Ulster in March, and they have won six of their last eight games since then.

The 27-year-old No 10 has won the Player of the Match award in four of the Sharks’ last five games, and after holding tackle bags at the Durban outfit for so long, he has been invited to the Springbok alignment camp that’s taking place in Cape Town this week.

“I’m happy for Siya,” Powell said. “He took his opportunity with both hands.

“He can thank the forwards for dominating as a pack over the last two months – it helps the scrumhalf and flyhalf to flourish if they get the ball on the front foot.

“He has also benefited from the experience around him, Test players like Lukhanyo Am, Grant Williams, Jaden Hendrikse and Makazole Mapimpi.

“The senior players helped him and the pack gave him front-foot ball, but he had to be good enough to flourish.

“Take nothing away from Siya: he is a special player. That is the reason why we contracted him from the Cheetahs. We saw he had something special, and that he was a very good all-round flyhalf.

“He is not just a good kicker – he can attack, defend and control a game. We need him to do all of that against Gloucester.”

Powell said there is every reason to believe Masuku will play for the Springboks one day.

“The way he is going, he can be a good international flyhalf. There are one or two things he needs to learn, and he will benefit from involvement with the Boks – but the important thing is that he is picking up tools along the way.”

Masuku and his teammates are going to have to contend with a partisan crowd tomorrow night at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (9pm kick-off, SA time).

While the final is on ‘neutral’ ground, the city of Gloucester is only a three-hour drive from London.

The capacity of the stadium is 63 000, and most of the crowd will be in the cherry and white colours of Gloucester.

— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) May 21, 2024

“It is part of the rules that we can’t play a final in South Africa, but we are happy to play it in England,” Powell said.

“We have an experienced squad with a number of Test players who are used to travelling (although Boks Am and Hendrikse are out with injuries).

“They know what is required to go away from home and be successful.

“We will rely on the experience of our international players to deal with the pressure moments and to keep things calm. But it is the collective that will make us successful on Friday night.

“Our mindset is everything. We can’t just sit and hope we win. The guys know they have to make it happen – no team is going to roll over and give you success.

“If you want to be successful, you have to go out and play well consistently. You have to get every aspect of your game right, you have to be disciplined and you have to want it.”