With the kick-off of the ABSA Currie Cup proper now less than two weeks away, it’s time for the Sharks squad to get down to serious business. While a number of younger players put up their hands by putting in good showings against an understrength Valke side, the final Currie Cup squad is likely to have a far more conventional look to it.
The coaches have cast the net pretty widely over the last month or so and while a pretty hefty injury toll should open the door to a number of fringe players, expect the squad to be cut down to a far more manageable 30 or 35 names early this week. The real question will be whether youngsters like Piet Lindeque and Dwayne Jenner did enough against the Valke to force their way into the Currie Cup reckoning at this stage.
We know that JP Pietersen, Bismarck du Plessis, Gerhard Mostert and Adi Jacobs will all make their return to the Sharks squad at some stage during this Currie Cup campaign, although right now we don’t have too much of an idea of when that’s likely to happen. Odwa Ndungane, Jean Deysel and Willem Alberts will also miss out on the first few rounds at least, while others who missed the trip down to Nigel due to less serious niggles, such as Riaan Swanepoel and Lwazi Mvovo, should probably be fit in time to face Griquas in the opening round.
The finalisation of the Bok squad to tour down under has at least handed the coaching staff some clarity. John Smit, Jannie du Plessis and Ruan Pienaar were never going to be available for the Currie Cup, but we can now add the names of Beast Mtawarira and Ryan Kankowski to that list – on the flip-side, Alistair Hargreaves will be available for the entire campaign and may well come into the reckoning for the captain’s arm-band.
If I had to take a stab at a provisional squad of 30 players, it would probably look something like this:
Looseheads: Pat Cilliers, Sabelo Nhlapo
Hookers: Craig Burden, Kyle Cooper
Tightheads: Wiehahn Herbst, Eugene van Staden
4 Locks: Steven Sykes, Anton Bresler
5 Locks: Alistair Hargreaves, Ross Skeate
Loose Forwards: Jacques Botes, Keegan Daniel, Michael Rhodes, Justin Downey, Luvuyiso Lusaseni, Skholiwe Ndlovu
Scrumhalves: Rory Kockott, Charl McLeod
Flyhalves: Steve Meyer, Monty Dumond
Inside Centres: Riaan Swanepoel, Andries Strauss
Outside Centres: Jean Stemmet, Piet Lindeque
Wings: Lwazi Mvovo, Mark Richards, Chris Jordaan, Louis Ludik
Fullbacks: Pat Lambie, Stefan Terblanche