Sharks welcome back ‘inspiring’ Sbu Nkosi
DURBAN – Sharks coach Sean Everitt says the value of having World Cup-winning Springboks in domestic rugby cannot be underestimated.
The coach had the luxury yesterday of picking Sbu Nkosi on the right wing for the Sharks’ visit to the Bulls, and while it is a team game he says Nkosi has an inspirational presence in the side, one that the younger players feed off.
“It is very exciting to have a Springbok World Cup winner with us,” Everitt said of Nkosi’s return from a sternum injury for veteran JP Pietersen. “Sbu has all the credentials, and with that comes experience that the youngsters really look up to.
“Sbu is good and courageous under the high ball; is dangerous on attack; he has good feet; he is able to beat opposition one-on-one, but more importantly he brings a lot of leadership. He is part of our leadership group and the youngsters really follow him.”
Nkosi is the only change to the starting line-up that beat the Lions 19-16 in round one but the Sharks’ bench has certainly been beefed up.
Set to make his debut for the Sharks as cover for fullback and wing is Yaw Penxe, who has joined the Sharks from the Kings.
The hugely exciting Penxe was last seen in action in the Springbok Showdown in Cape Town. The 23-year-old came to prominence for the Kings before starring in the Green team’s 25-9 victory over the Golds early in October.
“Yaw is a strong running, abrasive wing who is also at home at fullback,” Everitt said. “He had a very good game for the Green team and he has been on form for the Kings over the last 18 months. He is a good kid and he learns fast, and that is why we have brought him into the squad so quickly.”
Everitt has also included key fit-again players in hooker Kerron van Vuuren and flank/No 8 Henco Venter. It gives the Sharks a more experienced feel for this game, and Everitt feels that the whole Sharks’ mindset has changed since they were beaten by the Bulls in the Super Fan game in September.
“It is a different mindset indeed for this visit,” Everitt said. “Thirty days ago we took 30 players to Loftus to have a look at combinations and to gauge the youngsters we have been bringing through. That was a month ago, and now it is back to business with a settled, more experienced squad. To be fair, we also learned lessons from that friendly and it is certainly a different ball game this time.”
The Sharks were very good in the first half an hour of their match against the Lions before losing their way, hanging on for the win, but Everitt has a feeling his team are not far off rediscovering the form that made them Super Rugby log leaders.
“Sometimes finding your rhythm takes time, and unfortunately we have had had a stop-start restart to the season,” the coach said. “We had the Super Fan day, and then a break when the Springbok Showdown was on, then we played Lions followed by a bye that does not help continuity but it did allow us to get back players from injury, so we took that bye with a smile.”
Starting XV: 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (capt), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Werner Kok, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Phendulani Buthelezi, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Dylan Richardson, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Yaw Penxe