DURBAN – It is true enough that the Sharks will be without a raft of senior Super Rugby players when they begin their Currie Cup campaign next Friday, but there remains plenty to get excited about given the fresh talent coming through.
And incoming Currie Cup coach Sean Everitt will need no introduction to the youngsters who will replace the outgoing players as he would have coached them at Under-19 or U21 level.
But before we get onto the young talent, there remains a reasonably large crop of players who have been well seasoned in Super Rugby this year and who will provide the framework of the Sharks’ Currie Cup title defence.
The tight five, in particular shows some nice continuity from Super Rugby in the form of second rowers Ruben van Heerden and Hyron Andrews, hooker Kerron van Vurren, and props Mzamo Majola, John-Hubert Meyer and Juan Schoeman.
The Sharks’ depth up front has come through well considering they have lost Coenie Oosthuizen (overseas), Akker van der Merwe (overseas), Thomas du Toit (Springboks) and Ruan Botha (overseas).
Looking at those locks, Andrews was one of the hardest workers among the Sharks forwards earlier this year, while Van Heerden finished Super Rugby strongly as he began realising the rich potential he showed a few years ago with the Junior Boks.
Coming through to bolster the ranks from the recently ended SA World Rugby U20 Championship campaign in Argentina is the irrepressible JJ van der Mescht, who scored one of the tries of the tournament with a barnstorming 40-metre run against the All Blacks.
Van der Mescht debuted for the senior side in the Currie Cup last year and has made his Super Rugby debut, while other Sharks players who did duty for the Baby Boks and had cameos in Super Rugby this year are hooker Fez Mbatha, hooker/flank Dylan Richardson and flank Phepsi Buthelezi, who captained the Junior Boks to the bronze medal in Rosario.
Then are the two scrumhalves who are yet to play for the seniors in Sanele Nohamba and Jaden Hendrikse.
The Sharks are blessed at scrumhalf given they still have their Super Rugby No 9s in Louis Schreuder and Cameron Wright.
In the backline, the Sharks are styling despite having lost Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi and Sbu Nkosi to the Boks, and Robert du Preez to the Sale Sharks.
Curwin Bosch will be at flyhalf and then there are the likes of Jeremy Ward, Rhyno Smith, Kobus van Wyk, Aphelele Fassi, Marius Louw, Grant Williams, Leolin Zas and veteran Lwazi Mvovo.@MikeGreenaway67