Let’s have a bit of a closer look at the players who’ll be heading down to Pretoria to take on the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup semi-final tomorrow.
Starting from front to back, we have captain Pat Cilliers at loosehead prop. The former Michaelhouse lad has played both Super 14 and Currie Cup rugby for the Sharks in the past and has also represented the Emerging Springboks against the Lions. Hooker Kyle Cooper is another homegrown lad, from Glenwood, who has represented the Sharks are every age-group level and also played for the Baby Boks at the IRB Junior World Champs last year. Tighthead prop Julian Redelinghuys attended Monument Hoër in Johannesburg and also gained SA Junior colours last year. Redelinghuys also made his Sharks Currie Cup debut in 2009. Openside flank Skollie Ndlovu is no stranger, having played a big role for the Sharks in the Super 14 last year. Locks Jandre Marais and Anton Bresler have come up from the Sharks under 21s together. The former is a Welkom Gimnasium old boy and also played Baby Boks last year, whilst he latter went to DHS and came into the Sharks setup via the Zululand Rugby Academy. Mike Rhodes, at blindside flank this week, was on the Sharks bench last week and played some good Currie Cup rugby last year. Number 8 Justin Downey also made his Currie Cup debut in 2009 and as a Northwood old boy, he brings the total of KZN-schooled players in the pack to an impressive 6 out of 8.
Moving to the backline, Charl McLeod and Monty Dumond need no introduction, particularly not to each other, as they have played together all the way from club level up to the Sharks Currie Cup team. As a combination, they were arguably the form halfback pairing in the 2009 Currie Cup for a large portion of the season. Left wing Rosco Speckman was a regular starter in the Sharks under 21 side last season and a few injuries have opened the door for him to make his mark on the Vodacom Cup, after some good performances on the wing for College Rovers. Inside centre Arno van Zyl makes his run-on debut for the Sharks XV at inside centre this week, having played off the bench against Griquas. He is a schoolmate of Jandre Marais and they played in the Welkom Gim first team together. Jean Stemmet was an off-season acquisition from Stellenbosch University, where he was a key member of the Maties team that won the Vodacom Cup competition last year. His strong performances at outside centre have seen him come close to cracking the Super 14 nod this year. Completing the three-quarter line is Sbu Sithole, a pacey winger who will travel to Argentina in mid-year with the South African under-20 side. Mark Richards, yet another product of Michaelhouse College, is afforded another opportunity to shine at fullback, after playing wing for the majority of the season.
On the bench we have Hannes Snyman, Dale Chadwick, Luvo Lusaseni and Lee Thompson covering the forwards, while Ross Cronje, Jerome Pretorius and Louis Ludik are the backs. Chadwick played a game for the Sharks Currie Cup side last year, while Cronje and Ludik have played Super 14 rugby, for the Sharks and Lions respectively. Lusaseni is yet another Baby bok representative.Tweet