Ex-Kings show Sharks the way
The unfortunate demise of the Southern Kings has at least had the positive spin-off of some of their players finding gainful employment elsewhere.
The Sharks have a long tradition of harvesting the fruits of the Eastern Cape/Border region, and current players Lukhanyo Am, Aphelele Fassi, Makazole Mapimpi (temporarily in Japan), Sikhumbuso Notshe (originally from King Williams Town), Curwin Bosch, Jeremy Ward and Jaden Hendrikse, have recently been joined by Thembelani Bholi, Yaw Penxe, Cameron Wright (although originally from Durban) and Khwezi Mona.
Three of the latter four players have come to the Sharks as a direct result of the liquidation during lockdown of the Kings.
Scrumhalf Wright and prop Mona – he is East London-born but came to the Sharks from Griquas – played off the bench in the Sharks’ 34-33 victory over Griquas at the weekend, while Bholi started at blindside flank and enjoyed a blinder of a game, and Penxe continued his good form on the wing.
The Sharks complete their Super Rugby Unlocked programme on Saturday when they host the Stormers and it is difficult to see Bholi not starting once more in what is going to be a very tough battle for a Sharks pack that has not exactly dominated opposition so far in the competition.
The path of Wright back to his home town via Port Elizabeth illustrates the reality of the Kings tragedy.
Wright left the Sharks in April for the Kings only to later find himself unemployed, and he returned to Durban where injury misfortune for the Sharks proved fortuitous for the former Westville Boys’ High pupil.
In the week before the Sharks’ match against the Cheetahs, Sharks coach Sean Everitt had lost two scrumhalves to injury in training
(Hendrikse and Grant Williams), so scrumhalf cover was required forSanele Nohamba.
The Sharks were happy to take over Wright’s contract with the Kings, so the 26-year-old has income until at least January.
This has been a welcome case of a union helping out a player and vice versa, but sadly, not all Kings players have been as fortunate.
Bholi earned his first start for the Sharks last week when two loose forwards in Notshe and Henco Venter were rendered unavailable for the match, and he took his opportunity with both hands.
Today the Sharks will have their weekly Covid-19 tests and they will discover whether two of the three players who couldn’t be selected last week are now available.
One Sharks player had tested positive and went in to 14 days of isolation, but the two players that were put in precautionary isolation for seven days because they had been in close contact with the positive player could be in the clear.