DURBAN – On announcing his first team for the Currie Cup, coach Robert du Preez showed off an embarrassment of riches in his ranks. Not only is the first team to face the Blue Bulls at Kings Park on Saturday at 3pm littered with Springboks, it also has a number of exciting youngsters in it.
The Sharks have named six Springboks in their starting team, including hooker and captain, Chiliboy Ralepelle, No 8, Dan du Preez, nine and ten combination Louis Schreuder and Robert du Preez, with Curwin Bosch and recently released Lwazi Mvovo in the back division.
There is a lot of continuity for the Sharks from their warm up game against Bordeaux at Moses Mabhida as Du Preez admits that, in this short competition, he wants to get off to a good start.
“On paper, it certainly looks like we have the squad to win the Currie Cup, we have to go out there and do it on the field though,” Du Preez said. “It is a short season so we have to hit the ground running and we can’t miss a beat.”
It is not only the Springboks that Du Preez is relying on to do the job as he explains the selection headaches he has had with a squad, rather than a match day 23, full of talent.
“It is a nice blend of experienced players and youngsters, and I am very excited to see how they go on Saturday,” Du Preez added.
“Having said that, there are guys that are not in the squad, that are unlucky not to be there, guys like Leolin Zas, Courtney Winnaar, Rhyno Smith, Grant Williams, just to name a few that are not in the squad, but this will be a squad effort.”
However, much like in Super Rugby, the competition within the squad is a good thing for the overall chances of the Sharks to lift the Currie Cup after falling short in the final in Durban last year.
“It is a good thing to have such competition, it is always good.
“It is not always easy to keep everyone happy because the guys that miss out on selection will be disappointed, and rightly so, but as long as it creates a positive environment, because we will need this squad to win the Currie Cup,” said Du Preez.
One players who will not be adding his weight behind the Sharks, nor the Springbok, cause for the next few months is Jean-Luc du Preez.
The burly flank was released by the Boks and is set to undergo an operation today. “Jean-Luc is going in for an operation,” the coach explained. “He has had a long standing groin issue that needs to be sorted, we have not had the final details, but it looks like a sportsman’s hernia. He will be out about two months.
“He will be out of the Currie Cup, but in contention for the End of Year Tour.”