Durban - Sharks assistant coach Sean Everitt says he is excited by the potential of a talented backline that possesses both youth and experience, ahead of the Durban side’s Currie Cup campaign kick-off against Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.
Although the Sharks will go into the season-opener with a rookie scrumhalf, the rest of the backline will boast valuable experience.
At flyhalf, Fred Zeilinga - who was a Currie Cup player of the season nominee last year - will be looking to re-assert himself after an injury-disrupted Super Rugby season that offered limited opportunities.
In the midfield, the Sharks will be able to call on the services of Super Rugby centres Paul Jordaan, S’bura Sithole and Heimar Williams, while youngsters such as Andre Esterhuizen and Tyler Fisher are further options.
Among the back three, there is the experience of Odwa Ndungane, Tonderai Chavhanga, SP Marais and Jaco van Tonder.
“What is exciting as the backs coach is the fact that, besides the scrumhalf position, there is quite a bit of continuity in the backline,” Everitt said.
“We have a few players who have Super Rugby experience, and then some youngsters coming in as well. I must say the vibe at training has been very good, and there seems to be a real energy and enthusiasm.”
However, the Sharks will be facing a test of depth at No 9 after injuries to Conrad Hoffmann and Stefan Ungerer compounded the absence of Springbok squad member Cobus Reinach and overseas-bound Charl McLeod.
“Unfortunately, Conrad is not available this week, and Stefan looks set to be out for four weeks with a finger injury, which is disappointing,” said Everitt.
“But these injuries provide an opportunity for others to step up. (Sharks under-20 scrumhalf) Hanco Venter has been in the system for a couple of years now, and he has a lot of potential, as does Cameron Wright, who is another talented youngster.”
Meanwhile, the Sharks will be sweating over the fitness of Super Rugby locks Stephan Lewies and Etienne Oosthuizen this week, with Everitt suggesting their availability for this Saturday’s clash hung in the balance.
“We are a bit worried about Stephan and Etienne, who have carried injuries over from Super Rugby. They’re probably 50-50 for this Saturday and need to be managed carefully, but we’ll assess them during the course of the week. We do have Marco Wentzel, Wiehan Hay, and JC Astle, who’s joined us from Boland.”