Sharks beef up their defensive plan for 2020 with help from Nienaber
Super Rugby / 10 January 2020, 12:00pm / Mike Greenaway
The Sharks will have more bite on defence in Super Rugby this year thanks to invaluable input from Jacques Nienaber, the Springbok defence coach at the World Cup and the expected successor to outgoing Bok coach Rassie Erasmus.
Nienaber has been working with the Sharks in their build-up to the big kick-off against the Bulls at Jonnson Kings Park on January 31.
“Obviously, the success of the Springboks has had us looking at a few things,” coach Sean Everitt explained.
“Jacques is one of the best in the trade when it comes to defence, so we invited him to look at what we are doing.”
The Sharks have also been befitting from the return of World Cup winners Makazole Mapimpi, Lukahnyo Am and Sbu Nkosi who have injected belief into Everitt’s young squad.
“We are a youthful squad and having guys like that come back is awesome,” the coach said. “We take confidence out of them as to where we are at the Sharks and also as a country. There has been a lot of negativity about South African rugby over the last few years and that has now changed.
"The players have to start believing that we are the best rugby nation in the world and we must take that onto the field.”
Everitt promised that the Sharks will play lively, attacking rugby in 2020 and much of this is down to the type of players he has at his disposal.
“We have lost a lot of players from a physicality point of view, so we want to play a high tempo game,” Everitt said after a sweltering session ahead of tomorrow’s warm-up against Russia (5pm on KP 2).
“So we worked hard on work rate and conditioning, and there are a couple of tweaks we have made on defence.”
Regarding the loss of physicality, it is fact that the robust Du Preez twins have moved on, as has Beast Mtawarira, Ruan Botha, Akker van der Merwe, Philip van der Walt, Coenie Oosthuizen and Jacques Vermeulen.
On the other hand, the Sharks have recruited up-and-coming stars in Ox Nche (Cheetahs), Hanco Venter (Cheetahs), Martin Venter Lions), Michael Kumberai (WP), Werner Kok (Blitzboks), Jordan Chait (Maties), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (WP) and Madosh Tambwe (Lions).
Then there is a core of survivors from last year’s Super Rugby squad in Nkosi, Mapimpi, Am, Curwin Bosch, Thomas du Toit, Kerron van Vuuren, Hyron Andrews and Ruben van Heerden, while the Currie Cup exposed the emerging talent of Phepsi Buthelezi, Sanele Nohamba, Aphelele Fassi, Evan Roos, Boeta Chamberlain, Dylon Richardson and Jayden Hendricks.
Much of this was down to Everitt’s relationship with the junior players, many of whom he coached to enormous success with the unbeaten Sharks Under-19s in 2018.