Both the Sharks U/19 and U/21 teams will kick off their campaigns on Friday evening when they take on their Free State counterparts in Bloemfontein. Pat Cilliers will make his return from injury, playing off the bench for the U/21 side.
The Under 19′s recorded a 40-point win over Griquas in Kimberley two weeks ago in a warm-up game, so will be full of confidence going into their opening ABSA U/19 Competition clash. Fresh from Craven Week last year, Michaelhouse twins Guy and Ross Cronje will want to show the Free Staters that there is more to rugby-playing siblings than the famous Ebersohns. Guy will captain the side from scrumhalf, Ross will be calling the shots in the number 10 jersey. Watch out for giant Namibian winger Daniel Oijambo playing on the left. He’s only 18 and is 1.96m tall and weighs an impressive 104kg!
Former Gimmie Meyer Swanepoel will lead the pack from number 8, with former school mate Lambert Groenwald on the blindside. The Prize for the name most likely to confuse the commentators has to go to Nigerian lock forward Kenechukwu Okafor, a product of Kearnsey College. His partner Jan Marais looks to be a reasonable prospect, at 1.98m and 115kg at only 19 years of age. Tight head prop Pierre Hanekom also looks a beast of a man, at 120kg. He is a product of Steven Sykes’s alma mater, Marlow Agricultural College.
15. Faizel de Bruin, 14. Mark Richards, 13. Arno van Zyl, 12. Wynand Pienaar, 11. Daniel Ojiambo, 10. Guy Cronje, 9. Ross Cronje (Captain)
8. Meyer Swanepoel (Vice Captain), 7. Lambert Groenewald, 6. Jason Kaschula, 5. Kenechukwu Okafor, 4. Jan Andre Marais, 3. Pierre Hanekom, 2. Johannes Snyman, 1. Dale Chadwick
16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dexster Fahey, 18. Francois Robertse, 19. Carl Marks, 20. Justin Botha, 21. Yazeed Johnson, 22. Logan Basson
The u/21 side boasts a number of players with Vodacom Cup experience. Sharks phenom Pat Cilliers is on the bench and will no doubt be introduced in the second half. Inside centre Zuks Vulindlu is highly-rated and an incredibly exciting player. He is not very tall, but at 98kg the former DHS pupil is built like a tank and will look to unlock the Free State defence for his teammates. Outside him will be Glenwood old boy Ian Adendorff, a converted number 8 who also tips the scales just shy of 100kg. Wesley “Horse” Dunlop, of Grey PE will be at flyhalf, with Westville’s Tiaan Meyer, the vice captain, in the number 9 shirt.
Eric Ngoie will captain the side from blind side flank, while the exciting Warren Whiteley will be at number 8. The latter really did do some exciting things towards the end of the Vodacom Cup and should have a good season, before hopefully moving on to greater things next year. Quite bizarrely, all three of the front row are actually hookers, although Wiehann Herbst and former KES boy Dylan Rutherford are clearly equally at home at prop. Expect a right free for all at lineout time, when they need to decide who will take the throws.
Sewes Oosthuizen joins Cilliers and Ulrich Pretorius on a bench that (equally bizarrely) contains three props. One suspects that Pretorius, another product of Marlow College, is really more of a hooker than a prop these days!
15. Damien Jansen van Rensburg, 14. Senzo Sibiya, 13. Ian Adendorff, 12. Luzuko Vulindlu, 11. Danville Erasmus, 10. Wesley Dunlop, 9. Tiaan Meyer (Vice Captain)
8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Eric Ngoie (Captain), 6. Thiliphatu Marole, 5. Anton Bresler, 4. Luvuyiso Lusasani, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Gareth Light, 1. Dylan Rutherford
16. Ulrich Pretorius, 17. Patric Cilliers, 18. Sewes Oosthuysen, 19. Lee Thompson, 20. Alexander Kock, 21. Olaf Eggers, 22. Menzi Ngidi