The Sharks have been fortunate over the past few years, in having a tough time finding spots in the starting line-up for all our loose forwards. That was again the case during the latter part of Super Rugby, where Willem Alberts was picked at lock, so as to accommodate four loosies on the park. Have things changed though?
Just to set the scene, I will remind you that the Sharks currently have three loose forwards with the Boks, being Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee and Keegan Daniel, while our form loosie from the last few rounds of Super Rugby action, Ryan Kankowski, has decided a move to Japan might be fun, and is also lost to the Sharks until Super Rugby 2013 kicks off.
That leaves the Sharks Currie Cup squad a little light on loose forwards, and scarily close to a bad situation, should we pick up a few injuries. The Sharks started their Currie Cup campaign with Jacques Botes, Jean Deysel and Tera Mtembu, while Francois Kleinhans sat on the bench and made quite an impact in the latter half of the match.
The problem is not with any of these players, but in fact, should any of these players get injured, the Sharks really are stuck without any form of backup. Looking at the squad of 28 players announced at the start of the Currie Cup, you will find no other specialist loose forward, with Pieter-Steph du Toit likely to have been earmarked to cover this position, should anything drastic happen. Du Toit though, is injured for at least the next month.
Looking beyond this squad we have one or two other names that could step in, should the Sharks run out of options in the loose trio. They are Chris Cloete and Brynard Stander. This should put us at ease, yet Cloete is injured and will only be back in two months’ time, while Stander is not ready, albeit not injured anymore.
The question that this all begs, is whether the Sharks should look at buying a loose forward. The very easy answer to that is simply – NO! Should the Sharks run into any trouble in the loose forwards, a U21 player, like Brendan Groenewald, Khaya Majola or Braam Steyn, even the young Guy Alexander, can step onto the bench and even get a bit of exposure, but there are way too many talented loosies running around within the Sharks structures to necessitate a purchase.
Looking forward to Super Rugby 2013, the Sharks will once again sit pretty in knowing that they have 5 international loose forwards (Alberts, Coetzee, Daniel, Deysel and Kankowski) along with stalwart Jacques Botes (if he is still around), as well as talented youngsters in Mtembu and Kleinhans. The loose forward depth at the Sharks is truly remarkable!Tweet