The Sharks coaching team face an interesting challenge as they look to finalise the squad for the 2010 Currie Cup; with John Smit away on Springbok duty and Johann Muller on his way to Ireland, they will need to look elsewhere for a team captain.
One would be tempted to say that Stefan Terblanche, so successful as a makeshift skipper in last year’s Currie Cup, would be the logical choice. There are, however, a number of factors counting against the veteran, amongst them the fact that he won’t be around for next year’s Super 15 competition. With John Smit’s departure from the Sharks at the end of the season a virtual certainty, it would make a huge amount of sense to aim for continuity, lest we end up with a rookie captain in the premier Southern Hemisphere competition next year. Perhaps more vital, though, is the fact that Terblanche is unlikely to hold down the starting fullback position ahead of Pat Lambie and would essentially be a forced selection either at outside centre or at wing, since there are younger players pushing harder for inclusion.
The problem is, there are currently no obvious candidates for the captaincy that fulfil the criteria of being an automatic selection for the Currie Cup, while also being assured of a starting berth once all the Boks are back in tow. Jacques Botes is one who may well tick both boxes, although he is not a natural leader and didn’t seem to relish the challenge of captaincy at all when the mantle was thrust upon him back in 2007. Other players to have dabbled in captaincy are Keegan Daniel and Pat Cilliers and although both look reasonably certain to enjoy regular gametime in the Currie Cup, the return of Beast Mtawarira, Ryan Kankowski and also Willem Alberts are likely to relegate both to the substitutes’ bench come Super 15 time.
Riaan Swanepoel and Andries Strauss have both captained teams in the past – the former was Sharks under 21 skipper a few years back, whilst the latter has lead the Sharks XV and Wildebeest on many occasions. Strauss cannot be assured of a place in the Currie Cup side, though, much less the Super 15 team, while Swanepoel seems to still be struggling with the rigours of senior rugby to an extent and probably doesn’t need the added burden of the captaincy. The most natural candidate of all is, of course Alistair Hargreaves and our money would firmly have been on him up until a few weeks ago. The acquisition of Ross Skeate queers that pitch well and truly, though, because I’m not naive enough to think that the Sharks went out and bought a player like Skeate simply to stick him on the bench.
There may be another option, though, which is to start by finding a guy who is likely to be a part of the starting lineup both in the Currie Cup and Super 15 and then let him grow into the captaincy. In this category, once we’ve ruled out the likes of Steven Sykes and Jean Deysel, both of whom are a little too quiet, the only options left are Rory Kockott and Steve Meyer. Kockott would be a very interesting choice, since it would be a little like setting a wolf to guard the sheep, but often players with a bit of a rebellious streak end up making fine leaders. Meyer, while he hasn’t been back in the setup long enough for us to be sure, could also turn out to be a half-decent skipper, but the odds on that one are probably a fair bit longer.
If it were up to me, though, Hargreaves would be the man for the job.Tweet