DURBAN - Garth April is 25 now but as baby-faced as ever and with his growing hair, older fans will see the likeness in a young Michael Jackson, but his Sharks teammates prefer to nick-name him Bruno Mars on account of his hairstyle.
Perhaps what he best has in common with the pop stars is his twinkle toes. Now those have been more evident than ever this season in the longest run he has had in a Sharks jersey. He was in the team for much of Super Rugby and especially the Currie Cup, generally at fullback but occasionally at flyhalf.
He was stood down from the team for one match because of reportedly missing a team commitment during their bye match, but otherwise this has been a good season for the kid from the Western Cape.
April is from Wellington in the Boland and was educated at Paarl Gym until his penultimate high school year, which was at Florida in Roodepoort, Johannesburg.
Something of a wanderer since finishing school, April has played Vodacom Cup rugby for the Lions, Boland and Western Province before his big break in 2015 when he was contracted by the Sharks.
He had a good game against Toulouse in a pre-season friendly in February, but has had to bide his time in Super Rugby. This year he has had plenty of game time compared to a lean 2016.
“This year I have really enjoyed myself apart from a short injury one game into the season. I have played quite a few games in a row now, by far the most for me for many a year,” April said.
He smiles when asked a question he has heard more than a few times. Which position does he prefer? Flyhalf or fullback?
“I prefer to play 10 because you get the ball in hand more often, but I also I enjoy the time and space you get at 15,” he said.
“And these are exciting times to be in the backline at the Sharks because our forwards are giving us really good ball. We just want to score tries.
“I also think that a whole season of focusing on our skills levels in training have produced results, although there is still plenty of room for our error rate to decrease,” he adds.
The Sharks came together nicely against Griquas in a tricky match in Kimberley last week and April said the goal now was to ensure they do not take a step back and rather improve a little each week in the run-in to the play-offs, starting this week against the Bulls at 3pm on Saturday.
“We just want to build momentum after Griquas. We had a good win there in very tough circumstances on a Friday night there,” he said.
“This weekend the Bulls are going to be an interesting challenge. Their forwards are as physical as ever, and the backs are trying to play more expansively. We just have to meet them physically up front.”