The Cell C Sharks have always been one of those teams that looks brilliant on paper but on the field have struggled with the performance the last couple of years.
Between switching coaches a few times now over the last few years discipline have also played a roll in their under performance in Super Rugby. The Sharks have quality players who can challenge any other team in the competition but have failed to do so and go all the way in claiming the title.
What makes this year even more exciting for Sharks supporters is the new blood in the sqaud and young players with some special abilities that will play in this years Super Rugby for the Sharks. Adding to that they also have a new dynamic coaching team which will bring new life in the players.
Robert Du Preez was announced as the head coach for the Sharks and he will be assisted by Sean Everitt (backline and attack) and Ryan Strudwick (defence), who did duty with du Preez in last year’s Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.
They will once again form part of the coaching structure together with Jaco Pienaar, the former UP-Tuks and Blue Bulls U/19 coach, who joins the Cell C Sharks on a two-year contract as forwards coach.
Commenting on his coaching team du Preez said: “A lot of work has been done to strategize the way forward and we have assembled a skilled group of coaches, who bring continuity as well as great commitment to put in the hard yards to achieve the goals we have set-out for ourselves.
“The majority of our coaching team have lived and played in KZN for many years, understand our unique culture and have worked with the young players in our team. We are four weeks into our pre-season programme and there is great energy and positivity amongst everyone.”
One of the most positives that ca,me out the Sharks tank so far is their emphasis on skills, strengthening and conditioning.
“There’s going to be a big emphasis on strengthening the guys, and there’s also a massive focus on their aerobic fitness which we feel has been lacking, especially with the way we want to play,” du Preez explained earlier this year.
Here is the extended squad of the Sharks for this years Super Rugby Tournament:
|Beast Mtawarira||Andre Esterhuizen|
|Chiliboy Ralepelle||Benhard Janse van Rensburg|
|Coenie Oosthuizen||Cobus Reinach|
|Daniel du Preez||Curwin Bosch|
|Enoch Mnyaka||Clemont Poitrenaud|
|Etienne Oosthuizen||Garth April|
|Franco Marais||Ilunga Mukendi|
|Francois Kleinhans||Inny-Christian Radebe|
|Giant Mtyanda||Jeremy Ward|
|Hyron Andrews||Johan Deysel|
|Jacques Vermeulen||Kobus van Wyk|
|Jean Deysel||Lukhanyo Am|
|Jean Droste||Lwazi Mvovo|
|John-Hubert Meyer||Marius Louw|
|Jean-Luc du Preez||Michael Claassens|
|Juan Schoeman||Odwa Ndungane|
|Keegan Daniel||Patrick Lambie|
|Khaya Majola||Rowan Gouws|
|Lourens Adriaanse||Rhyno Smit|
|Mzamo Majola||S’bura Sithole|
|Philip van der Walt||Sibusiso Nkosi|
|Ruan Botha||Tristan Blewett|
|Thomas du Toit|
Players to watch:
Lukhanyo Am – He played for the Margate-based Gladiators Rugby Academy before he was called into the Border Bulldogs Under–19 squad that won the 2012 Under-19 Provincial Championship Division B and winning promotion to Division A, making six appearances and scoring three tries.
After spending time with Saracens during the off-season as part of an exchange programme in conjunction with the British High Commission, he returned to be included in the senior squad for the 2013 Vodacom Cup competition and made his senior debut against defending champions Western Province in Paarl.
In 2013, he was named in a South African Barbarians team to face Saracens in London. He joined the Kings on loan from the Sharks in 2016. In 2016, Am was included in a South Africa ‘A’ squad that played a two-match series against a touring England Saxons team. He came on as a replacement in their first match in Bloemfontein, but ended on the losing side as the visitors ran out 32–24 winners. He was promoted to the starting line-up for the second match of the series, a 26–29 defeat to the Saxons in George.
Curwin Bosch – Bosch was born in Port Elizabeth and was selected on several occasions to represent the Eastern Province Rugby Union at youth rugby tournaments. He played for them as early as primary school level in 2010, when he played at the Under-13 Craven Week tournament held in Graaff-Reinet, scoring a penalty in their win over Boland.
Still at school in 2015, he represented Eastern Province at the Craven Week for a second time. A 21-point points tally form Bosch in their first match against SWD in a repeat of the 2014 main match was followed by 13 points in their 23–22 victory over KwaZulu-Natal in their second match to qualify for a second successive final. However, Bosch failed to help his side to back-to-back wins, as Western Province beat them 95–0 in a very one-sided final.
Bosch was once again noticed by the South African Schools selectors as he earned another selection in the squad for the 2015 International Series. He kicked a total of 42 points in the three matches – ten penalties and six conversions – in victories over Wales, France and England. Bosch moved to Durban to join the Sharks academy for the 2016 season. His first action of the season came for the Sharks-affiliated university side UKZN Impi in the 2016 Varsity Shield.
2016, he was included in the final South Africa Under-20 squad for the 2016 World Rugby Under 20 Championship tournament to be held in Manchester, England. Shortly after returning to South Africa, Bosch was included in the Sharks Super Rugby squad for their Round Sixteen match against the Cheetahs.
Jean-Luc du Preez – Big things are expected from Jean-Luc this year and the Springbok experience should have molded the youngster even more as he takes on another season of Super Rugby with the Sharks. DuPreez as with his brother has all the skills and strength and need to step up this year to show that he earns a proper look in the Springbok jersey.
A player that have come through the ranks and have been improving throughout the 2016 season we force us to have a close look at him in 2017. Du Preez made his provincial first class debut on 21 March 2015, starting the match for the Sharks XV in their 53–0 victory over the Border Bulldogs in the opening match of the 2015 Vodacom Cup competition. He also started their matches against Free State XV and Boland Cavaliers and played off the bench against the SWD Eagles.
Prediction: The Sharks should have the playoffs as a start in their mind. They have quality players and have enough experience with the fact that they also have youngsters coming through to be one of the top teams in the competition. Super Rugby is a marathon not a sprint so managing the players will play a big role in getting there.