They say that rugby is all about the team and that individual rivalries don’t – and really shouldn’t – ever come into it. While that is undoubtedly true, particularly in the eyes of the players, there are nevertheless the occasional opportunities where – in the minds of the fans, at least – individual match ups can be quite interesting to observe.
In the case of the Sharks and the Stormers this weekend, we’ll have the opportunity, thanks in no small part to a hefty injury toll among both teams’ loose forward ranks, to see four of the country’s most exciting young loose forwards in action, with two on each side. We, as Sharks fans, will probably feel that too much is often made of the potential of the Stormers duo, namely Nizaam Carr and Siya Kolisi, particularly in the Cape media, while Sharks boys Marcell Coetzee and Lubabalo Mtembu hardly warrant a mention.
Certainly the impression I have is that when the Stormers rope in a raw youngster, they are doing it because the player is “exciting” and “full of potential”; when the Sharks do the same, though, they become “weakened” and “desperate”.
Now Mtembu played his fair share of rugby for South Africa at junior level and always stood out there, although with 2011 seeing him fall out of contention for the under 20 age group, his potential seems to have been somewhat forgotten in the mindset of the greater rugby public, with the exploits of Carr and Kolisi at last year’s Junior World Championship far fresher in the memory banks. Poor Coetzee, despite being possibly the stand-out emerging loose forward on the senior rugby stage in 2011, didn’t even get a look in at national level.
Perhaps, then, there may be a little bit of a point to prove for the Sharks duo, coming up against their somewhat more-fancied Stormers rivals. The same, I guess, probably applies in the front row where Dale Chadwick, Wiehahn Herbst, Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe pretty much all fit into the “inexperienced and young” category and could each lay down a strong marker when it comes to defining where the next big thing at prop for the Springboks is likely to come from.Tweet