Sharks have a ‘very good’ backline... on paper
DURBAN – The Sharks will potentially have the best backline in Super Rugby in 2020, but whether that strike force hits its straps is the million-dollar question.
That was the viewpoint of World Cup winner Sbu Nkosi yesterday as the Sharks continued their preparations for Sunday’s Superhero match against the Stormers in Johannesburg.
“We have a very good backline in my opinion,” the 23-year-old said. “We have powerful players in Andre Esterhuizen and Lukhanyo Am, skilful and clever players like Curwin Bosch and Sanele Nohamba, and lots of pace out wide (Makazola Mapimpi, Madosh Tambwe and Nkosi himself); and some very good decision-makers at No 15 in Aphelele Fassi and the up-and-coming Henry Chamberlain.”
Tambwe, the 22-year-old wing, was snatched by the Sharks from the Lions in September last year and is best remembered for the remarkable hat-trick he scored against the Stormers in 2018. His three tries came within the first 13 minutes of the game and he later added a fourth for good measure.
“Competition is always there in rugby, and especially for the outside back positions,” Nkosi said of his rivalry with Tambwe and Mapimpi. “In fact, South Africa, in general, is saturated with very good players in our position. It is how you deal with it - Mapimpi, Madosh and I choose to stick together in training so we can understand each other better and feed off each other.
“So yes, we have a very healthy squad of backs. If we live up to our potential then at the end of the season I should be able to say ‘yes we were the best backline in Super Rugby, but I can’t say that now before we’ve done the business.”
A foot injury last year meant Nkosi was unavailable for the start of the Rugby Championship and he ultimately lost his place in the Springbok starting line-up to Cheslin Kolbe after having had a fine breakthrough season at international level in 2018. He was nevertheless an important part of the overall Bok campaign in Japan last year and is a proud World Cup winner.
“Winning the World Cup was a new experience for us we enjoyed it as it all unfolded, but we have to bury that now and focus on making it a successful season for our respective unions,” Nkosi said.