So, after the messy defection of Lionel Mapoe, Sharks fans are (rightly) feeling aggrieved at the way the youngster thanked the Sharks for their help over the last few months. In addition, there has been some concern over losing a promising wing prospect. Is this justified?
Not according to me it isnt! The Sharks have often been accused of “‘poaching” talent from other provinces, an accusation that is ludicrous because all provinces scout for talent all over the place, this is the professional era, and we actually do produce some great players locally too.
Be that as it may, the fact is that there is some INCREDIBLE local talent waiting to uhm wing it for the Sharks, and I certainly believe that the attempt to sign Mapoe was not only unnecessary, but also unfair to these honest grafters, doing their time locally. Lets see more of these guys get a shot! If it wasn’t for Mapoe being unable to play, I can guarantee that Mvovo would not be on tour, having entertained fans as he has.
Lets be clear on one thing; wings (along with, to a lesser extent, blindside flanks) are the pure athletes of the game; the guys whose physical prowess is by far their most important attribute. A wing with power and/ or pace is far better than a skillful ball-player outwide. Think the likes of Jonah (50 metre turning circle) Lomu or Bryan (cant step for toffee) Habana. Pace and power maketh the man.
So how does Lionel Mapoe line up? At 1.82 m and 87kg he aint the biggest (although he does use his strength very well) and his 100 meter time of 11.4 seconds while quick, is not scary (the benchmark for a really quick guy is 11 seconds or less for 100m and 5 seconds or less for 40m).
But nonetheless the lad has got pulses racing… So how do the Sharks young guns line up against this?
Topping the pile we have the giant Kenyan (soon to be naturalised we understand) Daniel Adongo Ojiambo. Standing at 1.97m , and weighing a mammoth 110kg at the ripe old age of 21, Big Dan is a beast of note, and has played in the loosies and lock as well.
While he is still a rough product (having joined the Sharks in his late teens) he has the kind of physique that would make Jonah Lomu jealous, and already bench-presses 160kg. To top it off, his PB over 40m is a seriously quick 4.88 seconds! I for one am very disappointed that it has taken the Sharks this long to bring the boy to the seniors, but at least he has been given a senior contract, and there is little doubt that opposition teams will soon be rubbing there eyes as they see the big lad take to the field in the number 11 or 14 jersey.
Next up we have the blindingly quick SA U21 and Blitzbok Sibusiso Sithole (I thought it would be good for him to learn what its like to be second for a change). The 20-year old stands in at a very respectable 1.78m and 90kg (Bryan Habana size), and tops the similarity with an EXPRESS 10.5 seconds for the 100 metres, just 0.1 seconds shy of the quickest (and unconfirmed) time I have heard attributed to Habana. Big things are expected of Sithole, and one can only hope that we get to enjoy watching him more in the near future.
Most of you will know of Rob’s “thing’ for brunette centres, and the latest objet d’art he has set his sights on is young U19 Shark outside centre Piet Lindeque. This kid is probably going to be a Bok in a short while, and brings similar (in fact more) speed and physicality to the position to Jacques Fourie. The 19-year old stands at 1.8m and weighs in at an already significant 95kg, and tops that with a 10.98 second PB over 100m! I believe that Piet is going to be a great centre, but he can certainly do more than a good job at wing while he finds his feet at senior level too.
Most Sharks fans will know Mark Richard as a little man with a huge heart and the ability to punch way above his weight (he is a reasonably dimunitive 1.75m and 82kg). Richards, along with Jerome Pretorius (1.81m and 84kg) does the 100m in about 11 seconds and the 40m in about 5 seconds. Rumour does have it that Richards may well move to 13; more on that as it develops.
Another seriously quick junior is Quinton Dormehl (1.81m and 84kg), who comes in at a very brisk 10.63 seconds for the 100m, followed in short order by the 1.87 and 84kg Mandla Dube, at 10.9 seconds. Both youngsters have shown great promise, and it is quite likely that they will soon be making names for themselves on a field near you.
So fellow Sharks fans, tell old Mother Hubbard that the cupboard is far from bare – all we need to do is back our homegrown youth, and set these kids loose on an unsuspecting world. What do you think of the wing stocks now?Tweet