Sharks 'delighted' to have JP back in the fold
DURBAN – The Sharks’ Super Rugby-strength tight five for the Currie Cup should provide coach Sean Everitt with the platform to introduce inexperienced players to senior rugby, starting with tomorrow night’s home match against Griquas.
When you have big boys dominating up front, it is much easier for newcomers behind the tight five to adjust because they have more time and space.
The Sharks’ tight five were impressive in Super Rugby, so surely it will be the same in the Currie Cup. Indeed, a front row of Coenie Oosthuizen, Kerron van Vuuren and Juan Schoeman, with back-up on the bench in Mzamo Majola (one of the finds of Super Rugby) and veteran Craig Burden should provide a solid platform; while the second row of Hyron Andrews and Ruben van Heerden finished Super Rugby strongly and offers solid continuity into the Currie Cup.
An advancing tight five would make life easier for No 8 Tera Mtembu as he makes his way back to top-level rugby from his horror run of knee injuries, and in the second half the same would go for replacement players such as flank Phepsi Buthelezi, (the SA Under-20 captain) and scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba, last year’s Sharks U19 Player of the Year.
“When you want to bring youngsters through, having a strong tight five certainly helps you to do that because they are not under pressure at set piece time, especially in positions like No 8 and 9,” Everitt said.
Everitt said the Super Rugby players in the squad returned to training last week hungry to resume battle in a new competition. “The guys always see the Currie Cup as a refreshing tournament after Super Rugby, probably because they can see the end (of the season),” the coach said.
“It is only a seven-week campaign before the semi-finals, so there has been a very good vibe in the group. The youngsters also bring a lot of energy, and what we mustn’t get confused with is experience versus youth. Jeremy Ward, for instance, comes across as a stalwart but he is still just 23-years-old and in his third year at the Sharks.
“Ruben is still a young lock, so is Hyron, and Kerron has only just come through in Super Rugby. They will want to build on what they achieved in Super Rugby, in the Currie Cup, so they can further develop their careers.”
On the other end of the age spectrum is 32-year-old JP Pietersen, who Everitt describes as having a new lease on life after returning to the Sharks from Toulon.
“JP has come back in really good shape. In the past JP has been criticised for being out of condition, especially after his stint in Japan, but he has grown as a person over the last two years and he has certainly been a revelation at training where he has brought a lot of energy, leadership and advice to the youngsters.
We are delighted to have JP back,” Everitt said.@MikeGreenaway67