robdylan

The only way is up!


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 1 Jul 2015 at 10:07
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New Sharks under 21 head coach Michael Horak certainly has a tough task ahead of him, with his side set to kick off their 2015 campaign next Saturday away to beaten 2014 finalists Western Province. If that’s not bad enough, Horak (who took over leadership of the team from Ryan Strudwick just a couple of weeks ago) faces a trip to Loftus to face the champion Blue Bulls in week two.

Last year’s campaign was a disappointing one indeed for the Sharks under 21 side, with the team losing 7 of their 12 fixtures and ending fifth. There is, however, every reason for optimism in 2015 – a number of last year’s players are still available, with a year’s more experience, while Horak will also be boosted by the inclusion of a group of incredibly talented boys from last year’s under 19 side. Let’s not forget that 2014′s Sharks under 19 team handed the Bulls a 50-pointer at Kings Park last year and the spine of that side will stiffen the under 21 ranks this year.

Perhaps most important, though, is the new “Grey Squad” concept implemented by the Sharks at the start of this year. Unlike previous seasons, when the age-group teams were hastily assembled on the eve of each competition, 2015′s group of young players have been working and training together since January and it is hoped there will be far greater cohesion at the start of this campaign than has been the case in years gone by.

While not quite as “star studded” as the squads boasted by the likes of Western Province or the Bulls, the Sharks under 21 class of 2015 nonetheless boasts quality. Thomas du Toit is unlikely to play much under 21 rugby (despite eligibility) but in Junior Bok Mzamo Majola, Ruan Kramer, Barend Potgieter and Mees Erasmus there is prop depth aplenty. Chris de Beer (a strong candidate for captaincy) should be starting hooker, backed up by former Grey boy Andrew du Plessis and Cohen Wortley, while Johan du Toit and Hyron Andrews are expected to form the mainstay of the second row. Andrews may find himself called up to Currie Cup rugby at some stage, but there is further lock depth in Jean Droste (an off-season acquisition from Pretoria) and Petrus du Busson.

Graham Geldenhuys, a Rondebosch boy who played under 19 rugby for WP last year, will compete with Ray Williams for the number 6 jersey, while Ayron Schramm, Sias Koen and Retief Marais are likely to cover the rest of the back row, assuming the du Preez twins are called up to the senior ranks.

It’s at the back, though, where the excitement lurks, with young flyhalf Inny-Christian Radebe the toast of the town. With UKZN Impi scrumhalf partner Rowan Gouws beside him, much is expected of Radebe; perhaps the only real risk here is whether he too will be called up for senior action this season. Sandile Khubeka and Josh Bragman will deputise (with the former also comfortable at inside centre. Another young man who made great strides with the Impi is Marra Louw, who will be looking to cement a position as first-choice at inside centre, while Legend Marwana (who played a bit of Vodacom Cup this year) and young Marcel Coetzee are good options at outside centre.

Mike Cloete, Neil Maritz, Alrin Eksteen and Sipho Mkhize all return from last year’s team as outside back options, bolstered by the likes of Merlyn Pieterse and Kelvin Elder from the under 19s. Also look out for big winger-cum-fullback Sbusiso Nkosi, who still qualifies for under 19 rugby this year but might make a surprise appearance or two in the under 21 side.



43 Comments

  • Rob who are the other captain candidates? Hopefully with more time together the team can do better than last season!

  • Comment 1, posted at 01.07.15 10:13:14 by Seth101 Reply
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  • @Seth101 (Comment 1) : good question, actually! Kramer and Schramm both captained the under 19s at various points last year, but I really wouldn’t look beyond Chris if it were my choice.

  • Comment 2, posted at 01.07.15 10:22:05 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : Agreed, was just curious who the alternatives were.

  • Comment 3, posted at 01.07.15 10:24:05 by Seth101 Reply
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  • I feel a little sorry for Horak. After this season’s debacle I have no faith in him whatsoever.

  • Comment 4, posted at 01.07.15 10:28:31 by Orlok Tsubodai Reply

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  • Sbu Nkosi a massive kid

  • Comment 5, posted at 01.07.15 10:46:24 by Ludz Reply

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  • @Ludz (Comment 5) : Hell yea. Seen the legs on this youngster, looks like a props legs but he is quick.

  • Comment 6, posted at 01.07.15 10:54:47 by Bite me Reply

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  • Must say I’m in favour of letting the youngsters that qualify to play for the under 19′s and 21′s to stay and play in their age groups. This will give their bodies time to mature and get hard against players of their own age.
    The obvious exception to this would be Big Thomas although maybe it would be good for him to play there if he decided to move to tight head.

  • Comment 7, posted at 01.07.15 11:08:17 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 7) : I fully agree with your suggestion regarding Thomas at TH. If he wants to play there he I think the juniors would definitely mean less risk of injury.

  • Comment 8, posted at 01.07.15 11:51:03 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 8) : well, he can have the benefit of 3-4 games there before the Currie Cup proper starts

  • Comment 9, posted at 01.07.15 11:54:54 by robdylan Reply
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  • Hoping to see Radebe for the senior side some time in the CC, even for one game off the bench.

  • Comment 10, posted at 01.07.15 12:13:35 by Dragnipur Reply
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  • @Dragnipur (Comment 10) : He is coming back from a bad foot injury (which is why he missed out on Junior Boks – also the reason they ended 3rd instead of first, but I digress)

    So the thinking must be to get him fit with the under 21s before hopefully stepping up for Currie cup in the second half of the season.

  • Comment 11, posted at 01.07.15 12:17:11 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 11) : That’s perfect. We’ve got FH cover.

  • Comment 12, posted at 01.07.15 12:33:49 by Dragnipur Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 9) : Is that enough time to get truly acclimatized to TH though? I don’t want to see the Tank’s career ended because of injury or a mental knock picked up playing TH. This is only based on his comments that he is keen on making the move to TH. Perhaps the Sharks coaches see it differently and only pick him at LH.

  • Comment 13, posted at 01.07.15 12:47:41 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 13) : all of the Sharks coaches I’ve spoken to seem to fully back this shift to tighthead. Apparently mobility is a concern at 1.

  • Comment 14, posted at 01.07.15 12:51:10 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 14) : i still think he needs to learn a lot in that position, whats the chances of Janie working with him a bit? Cause that England loosehead destroyed him

  • Comment 15, posted at 01.07.15 13:05:52 by SheldonK Reply

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  • Whats happenned to Morne Joubert? Is he injured, or should he also be challenging for U21? Haven’t seen him myself but heard he was quite a prospect…

  • Comment 16, posted at 01.07.15 13:25:18 by JR Reply

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  • Thanks for painting the u21 picture, Rob…

  • Comment 17, posted at 01.07.15 13:31:54 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @Orlok Tsubodai (Comment 4) : You are not the only one ;) But I think he has a great chance to prove himself with this team. Probably less pressure than the senior team, plus he has got a very good team to work with. Hopefully this year is the start of the Sharks being much more competitive at u19 and u21 level!

  • Comment 18, posted at 01.07.15 13:51:39 by HeinF Reply

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  • @robdylan (Comment 14) : I suspect it will be trial by fire then.

  • Comment 19, posted at 01.07.15 14:04:35 by vanmartin Reply
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  • I saw Sbusiso Nkosi play at the St Johns rugby festival, this kid is seriously strong, a couple of times forwards would run in his channel, and he would hold them up in the tackle and drive them backwards.

  • Comment 20, posted at 01.07.15 14:42:11 by Bump Reply

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  • @vanmartin (Comment 13) : @robdylan (Comment 14) : and I think that is shown in the fact that they signed a new loose head instead of a tight head.

  • Comment 21, posted at 01.07.15 19:17:20 by JD Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 15) : You make a good point that he will need some serious work at TH to be successful at senior level, but that is the case with every young TH. If he is not mentally tough enough to take a few mental knocks along the way (and they will happen), then he will not be successful. There will be scrums and even matches where he will be taken to school. The England LH was binding illegally in every scrum in that match. The referee appeared clueless in that match when it came to the front rows, a proper ref would have sorted that out right away, and you would have seen a quick turnaround. Just for the record, the England TH also was binding illegally all match, almost always binding on the arm, ref missed that as well.

  • Comment 22, posted at 01.07.15 19:33:45 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • I have no doubt Thomas will make a success of tighthead. Or anything he really wants. I very watched him on the sidelines that level I’d passion and commitment is something that has probably given him the edge in many areas of his life. This guy is going to be great, sure he is young but I don’t expect it to take too long for him to become a big name in that position. Its not about the what it’s about the who.

  • Comment 23, posted at 01.07.15 21:11:50 by coolfusion Reply

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  • @coolfusion (Comment 23) : I hate cellphones and their autocorrect.

  • Comment 24, posted at 01.07.15 21:13:02 by coolfusion Reply

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  • I like the amount of promising youngsters coming through

  • Comment 25, posted at 01.07.15 22:08:58 by revolverocelot Reply

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  • @revolverocelot (Comment 25) : Ditto…

  • Comment 26, posted at 01.07.15 22:12:46 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 22) : ja lotnof illegal binding from tight heads, even Jannie is not binding correct.

  • Comment 27, posted at 01.07.15 22:45:56 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 27) : If the LH takes a short bind, it is very effective for the TH to slip his bind to the arm, it makes the LH’s outside shoulder ineffective. The referee must call this every single time he sees the TH do it, otherwise it will never change. If an illegal tactic is effective and is never penalized, then why would any TH stop doing it? The problem in this situation is there is little the LH can do to counter the bind on the arm, so is really forced to take a long bind, which also limits his effectiveness to just holding up his end of the scrum (i.e. Gurthro Steenkamp).

  • Comment 28, posted at 02.07.15 00:07:31 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 27) : That semifinal was particularly bad though. Clear illegal binding from both England props and the ref did absolutely nothing about it at any stage…

  • Comment 29, posted at 02.07.15 06:14:44 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 28) : @pastorshark (Comment 29) : unfortunately most refs seems to not care about the bind as long as the scrum stays up!!! only start to worry about binding if the scrum collapse!!!!!!!!

  • Comment 30, posted at 02.07.15 07:40:08 by JD Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 28) : I played loosehead and I loved the long bind. Grab hold of the TH’s pants, and pull. No prop can scrum with his pants being pulled into his ass.

  • Comment 31, posted at 02.07.15 08:19:42 by KingRiaan Reply

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  • @KingRiaan (Comment 31) : Hahaha ja also think long bind was better with the tight head doing the short bind.

  • Comment 32, posted at 02.07.15 08:36:58 by JD Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 22) : Agree on your point about young tightheads needing technique work- which is why it amazes me that we want to take away scrumming from a young age at schools. However, i must disagree with your point on the England props not binding correctly…if the ref didnt penalise them then they were binding correctly. Too often we complain after the fact that the ref should have ,could have done this or that to prevent us seeing our asses. If the ref wasnt penalising them for it then we should have done the same to counter. Have to play to the ref not always the rules as they are written. The ref isnt gonna change during a game, we need to adapt.

  • Comment 33, posted at 02.07.15 09:00:54 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 28) : That was truly fascinating to someone who has spent zero time in a scrum. Thanks for the write-up

    @KingRiaan (Comment 31) : :mrgreen:

  • Comment 34, posted at 02.07.15 11:03:53 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 33) : agree totally but better still if the oposition are scrumming illegal,why doesn’t the prop bring it to the refs attention and refuse to enage until his opponent is legal.

  • Comment 35, posted at 02.07.15 11:11:32 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 35) : a player does not really have the authority to play the match on his own terms…. you can’t “refuse to engage” because you’ll get sent off and then where will your team be?

  • Comment 36, posted at 02.07.15 11:14:39 by robdylan Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 35) : @robdylan (Comment 36) : i do like the refusal to engage idea. We are very good at striking in this country, well unless u play for Bafana. Maybe get some labour unions involved to take on these refereees…

  • Comment 37, posted at 02.07.15 11:17:03 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @robdylan (Comment 36) : Watching the rerun of the the 95 World Cup,scrumming was so easy they just got down and did it.Why they had to complicate it,every new modification is a step back,time wasting break in the game.
    I would love to see them go back to the 95 version.

  • Comment 38, posted at 02.07.15 11:37:34 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 38) : Fully agree

  • Comment 39, posted at 02.07.15 12:05:48 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @The hound (Comment 38) : @SheldonK (Comment 39) : ja they “fixed” a problem that was not really a problem!!!!

  • Comment 40, posted at 02.07.15 12:15:30 by JD Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 38) : Yup

  • Comment 41, posted at 02.07.15 12:15:56 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @KingRiaan (Comment 31) : @JD (Comment 32) : The long bind by the LH is effective in ensuring the scrum stays up and it does limit the TH. The problem is it also limits the LH to just holding up his side of the scrum. Look at every scrum where a LH dominates a TH and you will see the LH takes the short bind.

  • Comment 42, posted at 02.07.15 14:22:19 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 38) : Yes…precisely…

  • Comment 43, posted at 02.07.15 22:38:40 by pastorshark Reply
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