Sean Everitt’s Sharks under 19 side take on the Blue Bulls in the semi-finals of the ABSA Under 19 competition, at Loftus in Pretoria today. Sharksworld caught up with star centre Piet Lindeque to get his thoughts on the game and the campaign so far.
Lindeque, who was born in the tiny roadside town of Winburg in the Free State, joined the Sharks at the beginning of the season after starring for Grey Kollege and the SA Schools side last year, at outside centre. Identified as a special talent by the Sharks coaching team, he was a surprise inclusion in the Sharks Invitational team that played the Valke in a pre-Currie Cup warm up game and has represented both the under 19 and under 21 sides this season. While many Sharks fans are pinning their future hopes on this 95kg outside centre, who runs a sub-11 second 100m, to provide a long-term solution to the problematic number 13 position in the senior side, for now, Lindeque and his team mates are fully focused on the job at hand with the under 19 side.
After a pretty slow start to the season, the side managed to turn things around well in the second half of the campaign. When asked what made made the difference, Lindeque tells us that “we struggled with injuries in the first round and didn’t have a lot of game time as a team – which is necessary to help you find your strengths. In the second round, the goal was to get to the semi’s and all working together towards the same goal made us stick together.” The team spirit and work ethic certainly had pulled the lads trough and they’ve gone unbeaten in the second round of games, beating all the other contenders in the process. We asked Lindeque how important that winning momentum would be going into a semifinal. “Knowing what works for us as a team going into the semi-final is a big asset. We know what we need to do to win, as well as which tactics work for us. That’s a huge positive and a helping hand.
“The fact that we beat the Bulls at Loftus earlier in the season is a big boost psychologically. We know we have done it and can do it again – maybe even using the same tactics! Defence is a big area that we need to get right against them and we’ve talked about that,” he continues. “We also need to ensure we get control over the game in the forwards – that’s an area in which the Bulls really don’t like to be dominated.”
While their under 21 counterparts are struggling a bit with injuries, the situation in the under 19s is quite different. “We have a full, strong team for the weekend and some of the guys who missed out last week due to injuries are now back in the starting line up. A guy like [Michaelhouse flyhalf] Reef Naikin is giving us good attacking ball and had taken his chances well.” The retention of Naikin at flyhalf means that ace goal-kicker Ryno Olivier, the competition’s fourth-highest points scorer, will be on the bench. Lindeque himself has taken over the goal-kicking duties and in addition to the 7 tries he has scored so far (3rd highest in the competition) has added 17 points with the boot in the last two games. An outside centre with size, pace and a goal-kicking boot? Could the rugby gods FINALLY be answering the Sharks prayers?
Since the upcoming semi-final will be, for many of the guys in the squad, the biggest game they have played in yet, we asked Piet what steps Sean EVeritt and the rest of the coaching squad had taken to look after the mental side of the team’s preparation. “We have spent pretty much the whole week staying in a hotel together,” Lindeque explains, “and staying as a team and being together has really lifted the spirit and made sure that we are totally focused and prepared.”
Sound good to me! Sharksworld would like to thank young Piet Lindeque for his time ahead of such an important game and are obviously a million percent behind the Shakrs youngsters as they take on Tshwane’s finest at Loftus this afternoon. Go get em, kids!Tweet