Newly-reinstated Sharks under 21 head coach Swys de Bruyn is in the process of settling his squad for the upcoming ABSA Under 21 Competition and is the fortuitous position of having a fair few players of genuine class to call on this season.
A number of youngsters who gained the odd Currie Cup cap last year look likely to play for the under 21s this year, among them props Dale Chadwick and Julian Redelinghuys, both of whom established themselves as fixtures in the Sharks XV side during the 2010 Vodacom Cup. Guy Cronje, who found himself the Sharks first-choice flyhalf at times during last year’s Currie Cup, looks likely to be eased back into competitive rugby through the Under 21 competition after sitting out for 6 months with a foot injury. A number of others who played for the Sharks XV are still eligible for the under 21s this year, including Cam Dunlop, Hannes Snyman, Jandre Marais, Lambert Groenewald and big Meyer Swanepoel in the forwards, with Arno van Zy, Sbu Sithole and Rosco Specmann amongst the backs.
As is typically the case with Sharks teams, the under 21s look to have depth and experience aplenty up-front, with scores of South African age-group representatives to choose from, while the backs look a little lighter – at least on paper. The only position in the pack that looks a little suspect is hooker, with Kyle Cooper likely to sit on the bench for the Currie Cup team, despite still being eligible for the age-group side. Hannes Snyman will no doubt be the starting hooker, although both Monde Hadebe and Sean Malton have been capped by South African under 20 coach Eric Sauls this year. Another interesting option is young Eduan Neeb, a former Waterkloof boy whose Craven Week teammates are virtually all current Blue Bulls players. It is encouraging to see Adriaan Theissinger named among the forwards, although I’m lead to believe he is still not completely over the knee injury that has kept him off the field since emerging as one of the most talented schoolboy players on display at the 2008 Craven Week.
There are a fair few interesting flyhalf options outside of Cronje, with Wynand Pienaar (Welkom), Willie du Plessis (Affies) and Jaco van Tonder (Outeniqua) all excelling in the position at Craven Week in recent years. van Tonder is understood to currently be training with the senior squad, but will in all likelihood end up back with the under 21s this year. Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach boasts a formidable pedigree – he is the son of late Bok winger Jaco Reinach. Also in the mix is sprinter Quinton Dormehl, a winger who ran the 100m in a blistering 10.62 seconds while still at school.Tweet