Durban — It was the doyen of South African rugby, Danie Craven, who said his most valuable player was his tighthead prop and that his second most valuable player was his substitute tighthead, so much did the good doctor value the importance of the man who anchors the forward effort.
The Sharks clearly have similar thinking in signing arguably the strongest prop in the South African game in Carlu Sadie, who joins on a two-year deal in what is the Sharks’ latest raiding of the Lions’ den, and he and Thomas du Toit will keep each other honest in a fight for the No 3 jersey.
Just days ago, Vincent Tshituka was announced as a Shark for the next three years, and the on-fire flank will considerably boost the loose forward stocks at Hollywoodbets Kings Park.
One wonders what is going on up at Ellis Park — in the last fortnight they have lost their best three players from the URC in Burger Odendaal (Wasps), Tshituka and Sadie.
The Lions have had the strongest scrum in the URC — it has been there one consistent area of success — and the 25-year-old Sadie has been at the heart of it. The Lions have won more scrum penalties than any of the other 15 teams in the URC, so no wonder the Sharks set their sights on the 138kg Sadie.
Sadie is originally from the Cape and has played for the Stormers and Western Province, and in 2019 he played a season in France for Stade Francais.
A product of Hoerskool Bellville, he went on to play two seasons for the SA Under-20 team, in 2016 and 2017.
It wasn’t long ago that the Sharks’ set scrum was a weakness and they clearly targeted fixing this.
The hiring of Georgian scrum doctor Akvsenti Giorgadze has gone a long way to turning a weakness into a strength but so too has the recruitment of key tight forwards such as Bongi Mbonambi and Gerbrant Grobler.
Du Toit, Mbonambi and Ox Nche have been sensational of late in the URC but the Sharks know that if they are to challenge for top honours in the URC and Champions Cup, they have to have quality depth, especially in vital positions.
Sadie comes to the Sharks at a time when Du Toit has blossomed into the best form of his career. It seems like he has been at the Sharks forever — well since he left school — and he is still just 27. His maturity has also seen him named captain of the side while Lukhanyo Am is on sabbatical in Japan.
The Sharks play a Currie Cup game against the Cheetahs on Saturday in Bloemfontein and on 20 May their URC is away to Ulster in their final round-robin game.