Both professionals were seen at Kearsney, catching up with coaches from their high school days and watching the young talent showcase their skills.
The rugby festival, known as KERF, is considered to be one of the most competitive in the country and, in past years, the Sharks have used it to snap up the best rugby talent on offer for their academy.
Sithole could not be reached for comment on his cellphone but his high school rugby coach from his days at Queen’s College in the Eastern Cape, Clinton Loest, spoke highly of the centre-cum-winger. “He was very good, even at the under-15 level, where he used to play centre but we decided to convert him to the wing, where he played three seasons with the first team and captained our first team during the school’s 150th anniversary.
“He was different from the other players – his work ethic was incredible, he was dedicated. His work ethic got him where he is today,” said Loest. This week, Loest and Sithole were reunited at Kearsney where they watched a few matches together. Loest said the quality and the level of competition was “very high”. Like Sithole, Mtembu was a recipient of the first KERF Sharks Academy bursary awarded in 2008. He was moved to No 8 from centre in Grade 11 and joked that he only found out much later why the decision was made.
“I was too slow for centre and I only found out the truth four years later. It was definitely a good move.
“I’m a big family man. I had to pack up and leave my family to come to Durban. The day I left, my mother said to me: ‘Don’t let me down. You are going there for a purpose, give 100% percent’,” he said.
Asked if he had spotted any promising players, Mtembu said his old school, Dale College in the Eastern Cape, had a talented fullback in Aphelele Fassi.
Fassi will be joining the Sharks Academy.
KERF-Sharks Academy Bursary Recipients since 2008
Hendrik le Grange – Middelburg Technical College
S’Bura Sithole – Queen’s College
Tera Mthembu – Dale College
Leon Makiwane – Queen's College
Morne Stassen – Hoerskool EG Jansen
Chris Cloete – Selborne College
Neil Jordaan – Grey College
Brendan Olivier – Nico Malan
Kagiso Segole – Kearsney College
Dries Swanepoel – Grey College Bloem
Ryan Germishuys – Selbourne College
Sphu Msutwana – Dale College
Siyabonga Tom – Glenwood High (captain)
Nqoba Mxoli – Westville Boys High
Wion Robertse – Paarl Gim
Matt Reece-Edwards – Kearsney College
Mzwandile Mazibuko – Glenwood High
Rikus Bothma – Paarl Gim
Sarel Roux – Boland Landbou
Kenny van Niekerk – Glenwood High
Curtis Jonas – Glenwood High
Adrian Heystek – Westville Boys’ High
Justerino Davids – Dale College
Barend Smit – HTS Middelburg
Nico Peyper – EG Jansen
Jordan Chait – SACS captain
Heinrich Nieuwenhuizen – Selborne College
Jaydon Morgan – Glenwood High
Khuthazani Mchunu – Glenwood High
Renier van Rooyen – Glenwood High
Aphelele Fassi – Dale College
Sibulele Mbana – Dale College