DURBAN – Coach Robert du Preez is excited about the prospect of keen competition in the Sharks' Super Rugby squad this season.
“For the first time in my two years here, we have a squad where there won’t be any complacency because there’s so much competition in the team – which is what you want,” said Du Preez.
“Everyone is going to have to work hard to get into the starting line-up. But it’s a long season and we’re going to have to carefully consider how we give everyone an opportunity to play.
“Our success will hinge on using the squad effectively.”
One of the positions that will enjoy a fair bit of selection consideration is at flyhalf, where Curwin Bosch and former Western Province pivot Robert du Preez junior are the leading candidates.
“Rob and Curwin have really worked well together,” said the coach. “We had a four-week pre-season, before the break, and it proved to be a great four weeks.
“The boys worked really hard with a big emphasis on keeping the pre-season a lot more rugby-related. I think the players enjoyed it although we did take them out their comfort zone, so there was no status quo as far as how things have been done in the past.
“I’m very pleased with that aspect, although there is still a lot of work to do. They’ve worked hard, came back nice and refreshed and ready for what we have to do now.”
The squad boasts great depth, but obviously managing players and their individual workloads is going to be vital.
Prop Coenie Oosthuizen is out injured for the entire Super Rugby season, and loose forward Jean-Luc du Preez -who has had an ankle operation - is likely to return to action in March.
New faces in the coaching set-up include former Sharks and Springbok centre and coach Dick Muir, as well Springbok flyhalf Braam van Straaten who is now in charge of defence and kicking.
Next week the Sharks will play the Bulls in a warm-up match, and then the squad travel to Hong Kong for the game against Pat Lambie's French side Racing on February 3.
“We’re looking at different combinations, but we have a good idea who will be playing where. These first two games is more about the game time and I don’t think we’ll be too far off with the way we’ve prepared, “ said Du Preez.
African News Agency (ANA)