Sharks coach Robert du Preez on Thursday announced a meaty 45-man squad for this year’s Super Rugby campaign.
Much hope is being invested in this group of players, who’ve pretty much stayed together for the past 18 months and boast a useful mix of upcoming talent and established internationals.
Here are five of the biggest talking points the Durbanites’ mentor addressed.
The decision to give Currie Cup captain – lock Ruan Botha – the responsibility for Super Rugby too…
I thought Ruan did a sterling job for us last season, he led us to a Currie Cup final. He’s really grown as a captain and has the full support of management and the players.
Promising prop Thomas ‘The Tank’ du Toit will be switching positions…
With (Springbok prop) Coenie Oosthuizen still out for a long time, we’ve made the decision to switch Thomas to tighthead. We’ve had a discussion with Pieter de Villiers (Saru’s scrum guru) about doing so and Thomas is 100% on board with it. We’re not going to shove him around, he’s going to play tighthead. We also have the very experienced Ross Geldenhuys while John-Hubert Meyer has impressed me.
Having try-scoring machine Makazole Mapimpi finally in Durban…
He’s joined us and he’s already impressed me in practice. His communication on attack and defence is really extraordinary.
Dealing with the huge amount of depth (Kobus van Wyk, Lwazi Mvovo, Makazole Mapimpi, Leolin Zas, Sbu Nkosi) at wing…
Yeah, it’s a great position to be in. We even have the experienced Lwazi Mvovo who’s come back from Japan. He’s actually going to be playing for us at fullback this weekend (against the Bulls in Polokwane). I’m really excited to see this group in action.
Are the Sharks doing anything new this season given some changes to the coaching staff (notably new assistant Dick Muir)?
We’ve changed a lot to our training regime. We’ve spent a lot of time on the transitions in play, the quick switch from defence to attack as well the other way round. Our practices are really a lot more rugby-related, whereas in the past pre-seasons there was a lot of time spent in the gym and ‘mindless’ running. A lot is now focused on ball-in-hand, we want and need to score more tries this year.
The Sharks Super Rugby squad:
Fullbacks: Rhyno Smith, Garth April, Courtney Winnaar
Wings: Kobus van Wyk, Makazole Mapimpi, Sbu Nkosi, Leolin Zas, Lwazi Mvovo
Centres: Andre Esterhuizen, Lukhanyo Am, Marius Louw, Tristan Blewett, Johan Deysel, Jeremy Ward
Flyhalves: Curwin Bosch, Robert du Preez
Scrumhalves: Louis Schreuder, Michael Claassens, Cameron Wright, Grant Williams
Loose forwards: Dan du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Keegan Daniel, Philip van der Walt, Wian Vosloo, Tyler Paul, Jacques Vermeulen, Tera Mtembu
Locks: Ruan Botha (c), Stephan Lewies, Gideon Koegelenberg, Hyron Andrews, Jean Droste
Hookers: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Akker van der Merwe, Kerron van Vuuren, Franco Marais
Props: Beast Mtawarira, Thomas du Toit, Ross Geldenhuys, John-Hubert Meyer, Juan Schoeman, Mzamo Majola, Khuta Mchunu