I needed a new challenge to take me to the next level, says Vincent Tshituka on Sharks move

Sharks coach Sean Everitt with new signing Vincent Tshituka during a training session at Hollywoodbets Kings Park Stadium in Durban

Sharks coach Sean Everitt with new signing Vincent Tshituka during a training session at Hollywoodbets Kings Park Stadium in Durban. Photo: Steve Haag Sports

Published Sep 11, 2022


Durban — The bad news for Sharks fans is that Vincent Tshituka will miss the first three rounds of the URC because of a shoulder injury but the good news for rugby, in general, is that the flanker believes he is some way from reaching his full potential.

This is some revelation when you consider the 23-year-old’s sensational form in a losing Lions cause earlier this year. He was all over the show all in winning four Man of the Match awards and a URC Player of the Month award.

Even with the rich loose forward stocks at the Springboks, his form had SA Rugby enquiring about his eligibility for South Africa — he grew up in Johannesburg but was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo — and Tshituka scrambled off to Home Affairs to apply for citizenship and he reports that this matter is likely to be happily resolved soon.

Little wonder that the Lions CEO Rudulf Straueli fought so hard to keep Tshituka at Ellis Park once the Sharks came hunting and a tug-of-war played out in the media before Straeuli reluctantly let Tshituka go in the same direction his powerhouse prop Carlu Sadie went a few months before.

Indeed, at the launch of the new URC season at Vodaworld this week, Tshituka was back in Johannesburg and looking a little different in Sharks gear.

“The biggest reason for me moving to Durban was the opportunity for something new,” he smiled. “I have spent my whole life in Johannesburg and my entire career at the Lions and I feel I need a new challenge to take me to the next level.

“The Sharks have exciting plans, they are very ambitious and the way they are managing the players off the field is very encouraging — they want to make sure your future is looked after post rugby,” he added.

He is currently in Durban but is recovering from shoulder surgery he underwent at the end of the URC.

“I am recovering well and am getting my strength back and I can’t wait to get back on the field,” he said. “It has been a great year and I felt my form accumulated over a series of games. It didn’t just happen, it was progressive and what is exciting is that I feel that I am not yet at the top — I have more to offer, a lot more to give. So I am really looking forward to this new start.”

The Sharks begin against Zebre, who finished bottom of the last URC, then play the Dragons in Newport before finishing against tournament favourites Leinster in Dublin.

“The tour is in a nice order. With respect to Zebre, it is a build-up, with the Dragons a step up before the big one in Dublin,” Tshituka observed. “Leinster would have been a good one to play, I’m bummed I am missing that one because I also missed it earlier this year with the Lions, I would have loved to have tested myself against them.”

The loose forwards currently on duty at the Sharks are not too shabby — Dylan Richardson, James Venter and Sikhumbuzo Notshe started against the Stormers yesterday while there is also Bok skipper Siya Kolisi, Henco Venter, Thembelani Bholi and Phepsi Buthelezi — and Tshituka knows he has a fight on his hands.

“I am well aware of the class of the loose forwards at the Sharks,” he admits. “This is what is going to help me take my game to the next level because I want to be in the environment where I feel I have to constantly produce my best week-in, week-out. I have always tried to do that but this will give me extra motivation.”

Tshituka has played blindside flank, No 8 and even lock for the Lions but he is clear about his favourite position.

“I can play different roles but No 7 is my position of choice simply because it is where you are most involved in the game and that is my thing — my work ethic is my X-factor,” he explained. “I want to contribute and at seven you are slap bang in the middle of defence, and then on attack you are always asked to carry and create momentum.

“Can I steal ball? Yes, I have done my fair share. I feel I am versatile but I want to be in the centre of it all, so seven is the perfect position for me.”


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