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Super Rugby Preview – Cell C Sharks

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In the next couple of weeks we will look at our franchises and what we can expect from them.

2019 will be a big year for rugby in general with the World Cup show pieces in Japan and Vodacom Super Rugby will play a huge role in giving Erasmus the guidelines to make up his squad he will take to the World Cup.

This week we profile the Cell C Sharks who was knocked out in the play-offs last year.

The same happened the year before when the Emirates Lions knocked them out of the playoffs as well.

The Sharks has always been one of the sides in South African rugby that have so much quality on paper but fail to produce that quality on the field.

We say it every year but if you look through the Sharks squad you quickly find that the have some of the best players in South Africa, not just to start with but also on their bench.

Here is their pre-season squad: Andre Esterhuizen, Andrew Evans, Aphelele Fassi, Armand van der Merwe, Cameron Wright, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Coenie Oosthuizen, Courtney Winnaar, Curwin Bosch, Daniel du Preez, Dylon Richardson, Fezokuhle Mbatha, Gideon Koegelenberg, Grant Williams, Hyron Andrews, Jacobus van Wyk, Jacques Vermeulen, Jean-Luc Du Preez, Jermey Ward, JJ van der Mescht, John-Hurbert Meyer, Juan Schoeman, Khuthuzani Mchuhu, Kwanda Dimaza, Leolin Zas, Louis Scheurder(c), Lubabalo Mtembu, Phendulani Buthelezi, Phillip van der Walt, Rhyno Smith, Robert du Preez, Ruan Botha, Ruben van Heerden, Sanele Nohamba, Sibusiso Nkosi, Tendai Mtawarira, Thomas du Toit, Tyler Paul, Wian Vosloo, Lukhanyo Am, Lwazi Mvovo, Makazola Mpimpi, Marius Louw, Muller Du Plessis, Mazamo Majola, Luke Stringer

Sharks coach Robert Du Preez (Snr) has named Louis Schreuder as his captain for the season with Mtawarira as vice-captain.

Du Preez stated: “Louis is a great tactician and he has the backing of the players, who’ve shown great confidence in him as a leader.

“It’s also about how he works with the players on an individual basis, he knows how to communicate with the different players’, and he gets the best out of each individual. He also understands and drives our team culture which is so important.

The aim for the Sharks this year is to go all the way and will have to hit the ground running from the start.

Home advantage in the play-offs plays a vital role in this competition and winning the conference ensure just that.

With a few players that have come to age, Du Preez will be hoping that these players will reward the team for the faith he has shown in them the last couple of years.

At this moment he only have Jean-Luc out who will not start the season with them which gives him a fit squad to pick from.

The Sharks have been impressive in the Currie Cup with their pack and we can expect the same in Super Rugby.

With Oosthuizen, Du Toit, Beast, Majola, Juan Schoeman, Mchunu, Chiliboy and Acker they have some powerful men in their front row.

At the back the Sharks have quality of note with plenty of players with Springbok experience as well.

The Sharks started off last year to play a bit more of an expansive game which sometimes just did not fit the players on the field. We can expect the Sharks to go back to a dominate forward pack which will free up their backs more this year.

It worked perfectly last year for them in the Currie Cup and it is a more traditional Sharks and South African game plan.

There will be a lot of emphasise put on rotating players this year with Super Rugby being run with no break in June due to the World Cup in Japan.

We can also expect franchise coaches to work much closer with Springbok coach Erasmus and his coaching team.

Conditioning of players will be crucial to keep them fit and we know that to win Super Rugby you need some luck on injuries as well.

The Sharks will start their campaign on the road against the Sunwolves in Week 1, before heading back to South Africa for their home fixtures and home derbies.

Sometimes it seems to be a better draw to play at home first and build-up momentum before you take the tour down-under on against the Aussies and Kiwi’s.

Players to watch for...

There are a few players to look out for this year from the Sharks.

Curwin Bosch – Bosch had now some time to get the experience to advance as a player within the Sharks setup. A player with all the talent to be one of the greats in our game, but there was some cracks showing the last couple of years.

One of his biggest struggles was his defence. This was also something that lost him his spot in the bigger Springbok group last year.

One of the major obstacles to overcome for such a young player is to get his head right. Media sometimes are the downfall for youngsters like Bosch, as they write them up long before they have the ability at this level and International level.

Bosch can play both fullback and at ten needs a huge season to show us he is ready for the next step.

Lukhanyo Am and Andre Esterhuizen –  Put theses two together as they only way they will make Erasmus Bok squad will be if they have a perfect season with the Sharks together.

Both got a taste of Springbok rugby last year but did not really step up the way we expected them too.

Am is a genius in the midfield when he is on song and his distribution and reading of the game is the best you will find out there.

Esterhuizen is a big boy that do that hard work and Super Rugby will help him develop his skill and play.

In these two the Sharks have maybe one of the best midfield combination in the tournament but they will have to step it up in not just one or two games this year.

 Du Preez trio – Although Jean-Luc will be out for the first few games his presence with his twin brother Daniel will be crucial for the Sharks.

We know that the Sharks will want to dominate upfront and it is crucial that they provide the spark for the pack. Both rewarded with Springbok colours but both had the problems with injuries.

Their older boet Robert will play as crucial role at ten for the Sharks.

He had a good time with the Sale Sharks in the off-season and he has shown that he can dominate from ten.

Our Prediction: Sharks needs to start well and build their season. We expect the Sharks to make the play-offs. Hopefully they can make it to the finals this year as well.

Sharks
Super Rugby
Sat, 16 Feb, 12:55 Pm
Week 1·Singapore National Stadium
Sunwolves
Sharks
Sat, 23 Feb, 3:05 Pm
Week 2·Kings Park Stadium
Sharks
Blues
Sat, 2 Mar, 5:15 Pm
Week 3·Kings Park Stadium
Sharks
Stormers
Sat, 9 Mar, 5:15 Pm
Week 4·Loftus Versfeld
Bulls
Sharks
Sat, 23 Mar, 5:15 Pm
Week 6·Kings Park Stadium
Sharks
Rebels
Sat, 30 Mar, 3:05 Pm
Week 7·Kings Park Stadium
Sharks
Bulls
Fri, 5 Apr, 7:10 Pm
Week 8·Ellis Park Stadium
Lions
Sharks
Sat, 13 Apr, 3:05 Pm
Week 9·Kings Park Stadium
Sharks
Jaguares
Fri, 19 Apr, 3:05 Pm
Week 10·Kings Park Stadium
Sharks
Reds
Sat, 27 Apr, 11:45 Am
Week 11·Western Sydney Stadium
Waratahs
Sharks
Fri, 3 May, 9:35 Am
Week 12·Rugby League Park
Crusaders
Sharks
Sat, 11 May, 9:35 Am
Week 13·FMG Stadium Waikato
Chiefs
Sharks
Sat, 25 May, 5:15 Pm
Week 15·Kings Park Stadium
Sharks
Lions
Sat, 1 Jun, 3:05 Pm
Week 16·Kings Park Stadium
Sharks
Hurricanes
Sat, 8 Jun, 9:40 Pm
Week 17·Estadio José Amalfitani
Jaguares
Sharks
Sat, 15 Jun, 3:05 Pm
Week 18·Newlands Stadium
Stormers
Sharks
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