While the Sharks have a young and inexperienced backline doing the business for them, they can rest easy knowing that they have a born leader who is finding his voice in the centres.
Jeremy Ward has already led his country at Under-20 level and is now finding himself a leader in the Sharks’ backs.
The confident 21-year-old seems to ooze the qualities of a captain. It is clear and obvious on the field, if watched closely, as Ward goes about reassuring and congratulating all, from the props after a heavy scrum, to a brilliantly taken high ball at the back.
He admits he is finding his voice more and more on the field. With not many players over the age of 25 in the Sharks’ backline, and not many experienced in leadership roles, the centre says that he is enjoying the leadership position that seems to be forming for him.
“The guys around me need a voice and I am happy to take on that role, and it is something I enjoy doing; it is something I have done in the past. In a young backline I am really enjoying speaking more, taking charge, and calling plays.”
Andre Esterhuizen and Lukhanyo Am were often the starting centres in Super Rugby, but in the Currie Cup Ward has had a solid run in the midfield alongside Am - who is very happy switching roles in the midfield with the former Baby Bok captain.
“The more we get used to one another, the more you get used to how the guys play and what makes them tick, and what makes them respond to you,” Ward explained. “I think the longer we play together the better we will get.”
Ward and Am have indeed formed a formidable partnership in attack, and more notably in defence. The Sharks are the best defensive outfit in the competition, and a lot of that is down to a midfield that is marshalled well by Ward.
“We have worked a lot on our defence,” Ward went on. "Curwin [Bosch] has come back and slotted straight back in because our systems are in place. I think defensively we are strong in the backline and we take pride in keeping teams out,” he said.
Against Griquas, Marius Louw could come in to the No 12 jersey (for the injured Am) as he has had a couple of smart showings off the bench and was a star in the SuperSport Challenge earlier in the year.