While the Sharks were not too convincing in their 33-30 victory over the Stormers at the weekend, coach Sean Everitt was pleased with the cameos of some of his forwards, notably Siya Kolisi and Reniel Hugo.
Springbok captain Kolisi was playing his first competitive match for the Sharks, and his first for many months after a problematic period with injuries following the Boks’ World Cup win in Japan in 2019.
Kolisi moved from the Stormers to the Sharks in March and after undergoing a conditioning programme, he made a comeback in the Sharks’ Preparations Series friendly against the Bulls.
“We are very happy where Siya is,” Everitt said after the Sharks had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at the Cape Town Stadium. “He is still getting comfortable with how we play, how we move the ball (more than the Stormers did when Kolisi was there). He is making inroads into his game and he has certainly improved since he arrived.”
Kolisi showed deft hands in offloading to Fez Mbatha to score a well-worked try from a premeditated lineout move but mostly impressed with his no-frills, hard work at the rucks and mauls.
But the man of the match for the Sharks was another new recruit who was playing his first properly competitive match for the Sharks after the lightweight Preparation Series friendlies.
Lock Reniel Hugo, the son of ‘80s Western Province and Springbok lock Niel Hugo, scored three tries in the space of just six minutes early in the second half after the Stormers had led 23-12 at the break, with the 21-point turnaround suddenly putting the Sharks in the driving seat.
“It was a big turning point,” Everitt agreed. “Reniel put in a very good performance generally all around the field. His work rate was very high, and that is why we brought him to the Sharks. His quick tap for one of his tries showed good game appreciation because we wanted to avoid set-pieces.”
At 1.97m (6 ft 6), the 30-year-old has certainly taken after his lanky father, who played two Tests for the Springboks in 1989.
Hugo, a former Paul Roos Gym pupil, is highly rated by former Springbok coach Jake White, who signed him from the Cheetahs in 2018 to play for him at Toyota Verblitz in Japan. When White moved on to the Bulls, Hugo returned to the Cheetahs last year but has now signed a two-year contract with the Sharks.