In the spirit of the festive season, the Sharks announced a host of re-signings through an advent calendar style reveal. While quite cute and obviously positive, it speaks volumes of the bigger plan happening at Kings Park.
All the social media campaigns aside, from the ‘Next Generation’ Sharks and these advent reveals, the overarching aim at the Sharks for the past few years has been about rebuilding the brand, and doing it on the back of youngsters.
Everyone from CEO Gary Teichmann to head coach Robert du Preez have been saying that if the Sharks can hold onto the crop of players they have begun cultivating, for the next few seasons, they will be a real force to be reckoned with.
It is all well and good saying how good a side can be IF things go their way, but this recent reveal of contract extensions for the next few years shows that there are tangible actions taking place to make this happen.
T’was the night before Christmas and all through the Shark cage, pens were stirring; Sbu Nkosi, signed on until 2020; Ruan Botha, until 2019; Lukhanyo Am, and Thomas du Toit also until 2019, and so on.
All these key members of the Sharks squad, all young and hungry.
It is a very different approach that has been taken by the Sharks if one looks back a few years ago when it came to their recruitment strategies. Who can forget the fiasco that was Jacques Potgieter who never played a game in over nine months recovering on the Sharks’ medical bill before returning to Pretoria?
Willie le Roux also joined the Durban team, almost as a mercenary for a year, before chasing more money in England with the Wasps.
For a team on the rebuild, there was not much use in having these super star players come in and do what they do simply for a salary; there was no rebuilding to be done with that sort of attitude.
However, by cultivating the likes of Lukhanyo Am through a loan to the Kings, and picking up young superstars Curwin Bosch and Jeremy Ward out of the Under-20 Springboks, the Sharks have shopped well.
Phase two is now firmly underway as 2017 was a bit of a proving year for such youngsters. Super Rugby was a cauldron for many of these newcomers, and almost all of them came out better than they went in.
Even the Currie Cup, despite the result of the final game, gave a chance for these burgeoning stars to be more settled and more comfortable in a black and white jersey.
It must give coach Du Preez quite a warm fuzzy feeling to know that he is not planning his future a few games at a time, but rather a few seasons. The Sharks are now truly in the rebuilding phase, but at least they have done their resource shopping beforehand.
Mzamo Majola - 2020
Courtney Winnaar - 2020
Akker van der Merwe - 2019
Wian Vosloo - 2019
Rhyno Smith - 2019
Johan Deysel - 2019
John-Hubert Meyer - 2020
Jean Droste - 2019
Louis Schreuder - 2020
Jeremy Ward - 2020
Thomas du Toit - 2019
Lukhanyo Am - 2019
Ruan Botha - 2019
Sbu Nkosi - 2020