DURBAN - There was a throwaway line from Sharks scrumhalf Louis Schreuder that was more revealing than probably intended on Tuesday.
“I feel like the ‘ballie’ in this backline when you consider that the rest of the guys are around 22. The future of the Sharks is really bright when you consider the youthfulness of their backs and the attacking intent that the coach is instilling,” the former Western Province man said.
The background to what Schreuder, 27, said is the “three-year plan” outlined by chief executive Gary Teichmann when he took over from John Smit last year, and which has been endorsed by coach Robert du Preez, who took over from Gary Gold.
Consider a backline tasked with playing positive, ball-in-hand-rugby which is headed by enterprising youngsters in Curwin Bosch, Inny Radebe, Jeremy Ward, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Garth April, Sbu Nkosi, Marius Louw, Lukhanyo Am, Rhyno Smith and Kobus van Wyk.
In one of the most encouraging selections in a long time, coach Du Preez picked a player out of Durban club rugby for the Sharks’ Currie Cup match against the Free State Cheetahs last week.
Right wing Tythan Adams is a clone of Nkosi in both looks and talent and the Gold Cup star will play a lot more for the Sharks in the Currie Cup campaign ahead. Watch out for this kid, he is an awesome talent.
Hard fought Win today.
In the background guiding these youngsters are veterans in Odwa Ndungane and Lwazi Mvovo. Ndungane is heading towards the end of his career, but Mvovo will be around for a while.
Also there is a relative youngster in Andre Esterhuizen, 23, who will be back for Super Rugby next year from time in Japan, while it is understood that former Kings star wing Makezole Mapimpi will be joining the Sharks for Super Rugby once he has finished the season with the Cheetahs in the PRO14.
It’s no secret that Pat Lambie will be at Racing 92 in Paris next year once he has extricated himself from his Saru contract (the Sharks are not standing in the way of his departure), and it is a pity that Cobus Reinach has been lost to South African rugby (he has moved on to Northampton Saints).
But the future remains sunny for the Sharks, given that wealth of youngsters who are bristling with intent to play enterprising rugby.
Remember, when Teichmann took over he spoke of keeping together (as much as possible) a group of young players who wanted to learn about the old “Natal” rugby culture and were committed to playing try-scoring rugby.
Well, he has no problem with Du Preez endorsing that vision - he played many a season with Teichmann at the height of the Sharks’ glory days in the 1990s - and the players the Sharks are recruiting are increasingly coming from within their youth structures and academy.
Teichmann has spoken about a three-year plan. Imagine the attacking potential in 2019 of a backline marshalled by Bosch, who will be just about at the peak of his powers and have fast men at his disposal in the likes of Am, Smith, Ward and Nkosi.
The future is bright for the Sharks and they have the inside track to a home Currie Cup semi-final and possible final this year. If the Sharks go on to win the Currie Cup, watch this team bloom in Super Rugby.