Currie Cup options: the front row

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 30 May 2008 at 10:29

In the first of a series of four articles looking forward to the Sharks Currie Cup campaign, let’s have a look at our front row options and assess the depth available to us.

Prop is the one area where the Sharks boast talent in depth that few other provinces can match. Tendai Mtawarira, the Beast, has taken his chances with both hands, having been called in to deputise for injured Bok Deon Carstens for this year’s Super 14 campaign. Beast was the form loosehead prop in South Africa all season and has been rewarded with a call-up to the Springbok squad, together with regular tighthead Brendon Botha. Neither is likely to be available to the Sharks at any stage of teh Currie Cup campaign, although we await news on exactly what involvement from Springbok squad members we can expect. Persistent rumours about Botha’s imminent departure for Ireland mean that we may actually have seen the last of this stalwart in black and white, which would be a sad thing indeed.

The Natal Sharks shouldn’t struggle in the front row during the Currie Cup, though. Carstens is over his injury and managed to get a little Super 14 game time under his belt over the course of the last month. He will slot straight in at loosehead and is sure to be a stalwart for the duration of the campaign, mixing strength in the scrum with excellent ball skills and a surprising turn of pace for such a big man. Another overlooked former Bok, Jannie du Plessis, will play the anchor role at tighthead for the duration of the competition and there isn’t another team in the Currie Cup that can boast a stronger pair of starting props (although with Wian du Preez and Kobus Calldo, the Cheetahs aren’t far behind).

The obvious backup option at tighthead is the exciting young Patric Cilliers and the youngster, himself fully recovered from his ugly knee injury, offers a dynamic aspect that should see him guaranteed a regular spot in the number 17 jersey. That said, he could possibly be rotated with du Plessis to keep both in top shape. Pat is an unusual tighthead in that he is a terrific natural athlete, wile at the same time not giving an inch in the tighter phases. Still only 21 years old, he has at least 12 years of top rugby ahead of him and will hopefully develop into one of the Sharks’ brightest stars in seasons to come.

Kees Lensing would generally be next in line at loosehead, but it seems he has been shipped off to Castres on a loan deal to see if he can put any more effort into representing them than he does for the Sharks. Good riddance, I say; hope it was a one-way ticket. Robbie Harris proved last year that he’s a more than capable loosehead, himself possessing very good ball skills. His defence around the fringes is a particular strength and he has been known to secure a turnover or two by hitting a guy just in that sweet spot as he tries to break around the side of the ruck. Pressed into service at tighthead last year when Cilliers got hurt, he initially struggled, but started to hold his own as he developed, eventually coming of age as a key member of the 4-man Sharks tight five that bested the Bulls at Loftus last year. With the tighthead depth still available, though, it’s at loosehead where I feel Harris will best be utilised in the future. He’s 27 now, just about the right age for a prop to start coming into his prime.

A number of players from the Wildebeest squad also stand an outside chance of making their way into the squad, should injuries strike. Pierre Bouwer is a 22-year-old loosehead from Despatch in the Eastern Cape. Dave Hawksworth is also a loosehead, who made his way back to Natal recently after a stint in England. He attended Glenwood Boys High and represented Natal at u19 level back in 2001. There was talk during the Vodacom Cup that he’s gone back to the UK to help out short-term at his old club, so he may well still be there. Melusi Mthetwa is another youngster, only 21 this year and fresh from the age-group ranks. Also a loosehead, he’ll need to bulk up a bit before being ready for Currie Cup rugby. Youngsters Sewes Oosthuizen and JC Strauss will likewise need more work in the junior ranks before making the step up.

First-choice hooker Bismarck du Plessis is likely to be very busy with national commitments during the Currie Cup, so it’s unlikely we’ll see him in the Sharks side at all. Negotiations apparently continue around John Smit, but again, we’ll be lucky to see him at all until the Super 14 next year at the earliest. This means a baptism of fire for Craig Burden in the Currie Cup, as the former winger will now be the primary option at number 2 for the duration of the campaign. Burden showed in the Super 14 that his basics are pretty solid and that he brings a new dimension to the position with his pace and ball skills. He is ready to take his place in the run-on side and I predict he will have a superb Currie Cup, particularly given the two experienced campaigners that will pack down on either side of him.

Skipper Badenhorst will doubtless continue as the back-up and Currie Cup is probably the correct level of the game to showcase his skills. He will be pushed hard by young Jody Jenneker, though, who has been rewarded for some decent play in the Vodacom Cup by being picked for the Emerging Springbok tour to Romania. It’s not a position where we have a huge amount of depth, though and it’s one where hopefully we’ll look at replacing some of the chaff with quality youngsters. Young Sibusisu Dube played a bit in the Vodacom Cup, but wasn’t mentioned significantly in any dispatches, while former KES boy Dylan Rutherford is a utility hooker-cum-prop option and a current Sharks Academy attendee.

All-in-all, we’re looking pretty good up-front for the Currie Cup. Next up, we’ll look at the second and back rows.


  • gm rob , for the most things look ok but to be honest we losing experience and i dont see it being filled

    something needs to be done soon or we gonna to fail bad in the super 14 next year

    we also need a good full back as stefan is getting on a bit
    fly is our head ache ans center i feel we are ok for now

    isnt it amazing 2 sharks players made the kiwi press super 14 team
    kanko of course and wait for it??????????????????????

  • Comment 1, posted at 30.05.08 10:43:31 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • @sharks_lover (Comment 1) : really? Where did you see that?

  • Comment 2, posted at 30.05.08 10:44:12 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Good starters for props…we have 2 men who own Green Blazers…and we also have decent cover in Pat & Co.

    A bit worried with hooker…but Craig did show signs of improvement in the absence of Bis so maybe I should relax. Good thing we’ll start against a strong WP side…so we’ll know exactly what’s up.

    Do you think we can get anythng better out of Skip or is this his optimum level of the game? He’s one player who seems to have a consistent but very mediocre graph…how about some improvement Skip?

    Honestly, I haven’t seen anything from Jody recently…but promising he was…and the fact that he’s been called to the E-Boks…means he hasn’t lost that promise. We’ll have to keep an eye on this one.

    No sleepless nights for Plummy as far as this department is concerned.

  • Comment 3, posted at 30.05.08 10:53:21 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • really? Where did you see that? (jumps up and down and punches the air)

    Comment 2, posted at 30.05.08 10:44:12 by robdylan

  • Comment 4, posted at 30.05.08 10:55:01 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blackshark (Comment 4) : πŸ™‚

  • Comment 5, posted at 30.05.08 10:56:13 by robdylan Reply
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  • wait ill show ya
    107 Tomsta Report comment
    May 30th, 2008 at 1:03 am
    just seen the Wynne Gray super 14 team in todays nz herald.

    15 jantjies
    14 masaga
    13 luluala
    12 barrit
    11 lote
    10 carter
    9 ricky
    8 kanko
    7 george smith
    6 elsom
    5 bekker
    4 vickerman
    3 afoa
    2 hore
    1 woodcock

  • Comment 6, posted at 30.05.08 10:56:39 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • now that gonna get rob excited lol

  • Comment 7, posted at 30.05.08 10:58:04 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • Ok…a lot of South Africans there…and only one who didn’t make the Bok squad. 😯

  • Comment 8, posted at 30.05.08 10:59:39 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • …and i’m not talking about VICKERMAN πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 9, posted at 30.05.08 11:01:03 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!

    theres the link to the herald

  • Comment 10, posted at 30.05.08 11:03:18 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • lol blackshark

  • Comment 11, posted at 30.05.08 11:03:38 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • carter at 10?

    i think the waratahs 10 has been exceptional this season… what’s his name???

  • Comment 12, posted at 30.05.08 11:04:20 by wpw (YNWA) Reply
  • nope carter is the man no doubt

  • Comment 13, posted at 30.05.08 11:07:21 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @wpw (YNWA) (Comment 12) :

    Kurtley “I look like a young Adi” Beale.

  • Comment 14, posted at 30.05.08 11:07:54 by KSA Shark Β© Reply

    KSA Shark Β©
  • I think Rob will decide that this bit of news deserves it’s own thread.

    Would be interesting to see what the final BOK BAROMETER that The Times and other websites were running looked like at the end of the Super 14.

  • Comment 15, posted at 30.05.08 11:08:03 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blackshark (Comment 15) : I don’t need to write any more articles about how good Brad is… the important people already know it.

    Bashford 3:16

  • Comment 16, posted at 30.05.08 11:09:44 by robdylan Reply
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  • @wpw (YNWA) (Comment 12) :

    Are you serious?

    Kurtley ” I’m so accurate I can hit the post ten times in a row” Beale ???

  • Comment 17, posted at 30.05.08 11:10:31 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • Versatile back who has a low error rate, strong defender who can also carry the ball and link strongly with his outsides.

    Just what I’ve always said

  • Comment 18, posted at 30.05.08 11:11:40 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • to me steyn will have to go to fullback

    i can tell you now he will play 13 for the boks

    once again he is gonna be shifted around

  • Comment 19, posted at 30.05.08 11:11:43 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 16) :

    Waiting for the Currie Cup is exhausting… 😑

  • Comment 20, posted at 30.05.08 11:12:24 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • lol blacksharks mate
    hey wena mponda kanjane ?? πŸ˜†

  • Comment 21, posted at 30.05.08 11:12:40 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • @sharks_lover (Comment 19) : Steyn can go to Western Province, for all I care.

  • Comment 22, posted at 30.05.08 11:17:30 by robdylan Reply
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  • @sharks_lover (Comment 21) :

    sharp! sharp!

    Looks like Steyn will have to cover 13 FOR NOW…

  • Comment 23, posted at 30.05.08 11:19:10 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • rob sorry mate bur ur crazy
    steyn will get his form back and then ??
    dont lose it mate its not his fault he gets shifted to 5 positions

    nor is it barritss
    or pienaars

    its coaches that stuff around

  • Comment 24, posted at 30.05.08 11:21:40 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • @sharks_lover (Comment 24) : Frans is kak wherever he plays cos his attitude stinks. He needs to come down to earth first and realise he’s mortal just like the rest of us.

    BTW, don’t any of you guys actually like discussing the front row? πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 25, posted at 30.05.08 11:22:57 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • infact i know you wont agree but with present players in the sharks squad if we dont get anyone new here is my backline

    jp / stefan

    the thing is if itsb decided steyn is full back leave him there to mature into the position , or fly half

    we play him one game it doesnt go that well and now he is kak???

    ruan for example started flyhalf and has gotten better and better
    you can’t judge someone on one game

    this story about barritt and murray moving to stormers cuzz they dont get along with steyn or plum is crap

    a stormers guy cracked that joke on keo and others have taken it seriously and spread the rumour

    trust me rob id rather have steyn in my team then against us

  • Comment 26, posted at 30.05.08 11:27:26 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • lol front row is looked after , but we need smitty no doubt

    i have said for the years now he is the best hooker but he is so strong you can play him at prop too

    those who think not have no clue about hooker of front row play

    but carstens beast jannie burden and cilliers will do the job in currycup

  • Comment 27, posted at 30.05.08 11:29:22 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 22) :

    He’s not old enough to go to WP…

  • Comment 28, posted at 30.05.08 11:29:43 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • rob you know frans personally to know he is arrogant ??

    sorry bro but you have taken a disliking because he has replaced barritt

    its like shooting the messenger . dick put him there

    and i am afriad the kids gonna make you eat ur words

  • Comment 29, posted at 30.05.08 11:30:55 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • πŸ˜‰ blackshark

  • Comment 30, posted at 30.05.08 11:31:47 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @robdylan (Comment 25) : See comment 3.

    Maybe we’ll have more stuff to say when we move to the other departments… πŸ˜†

  • Comment 31, posted at 30.05.08 11:33:31 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • the sharks need a flyhalf a lock badly

  • Comment 32, posted at 30.05.08 11:34:00 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Barrit should’ve called the shots in the Bokline. 😑

  • Comment 33, posted at 30.05.08 11:36:34 by Cru-El Reply

  • @sharks_lover (Comment 32) :

    Hold your horses…we’re still moving to the backrow / backline…

    let’s all sing together ” We have the best front row in the CC…la la la la la”

  • Comment 34, posted at 30.05.08 11:40:15 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • ok – I’ll do the next bit this afternoon

  • Comment 35, posted at 30.05.08 11:41:09 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @sharks_lover (Comment 24) :
    Dude, wrather say five positions.
    Using numbers in the same sentence as Steyn is dangerous. Almost thought you wanted him to play lock…he’s almost big enough though πŸ˜†

  • Comment 36, posted at 30.05.08 11:41:28 by Cru-El Reply

  • @Cru-El (Comment 36) : wrather?

  • Comment 37, posted at 30.05.08 11:47:38 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @Cru-El (Comment 33) :

    I have no doubt that Barritt will get his call-up soon.
    Having said that…different coaches look for different things in a player to achieve the balance they want for the team.

    At the risk of sounding like Rob…or even worse…the NZ Herald…Brad was a top performer in the S14 , strong defense, decent passing skills and little or no errors (which some people call boring – but that’s for a different talk-show).

  • Comment 38, posted at 30.05.08 11:47:50 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blackshark (Comment 38) : I think we need more people around here who sound like me πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 39, posted at 30.05.08 11:49:20 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @blackshark (Comment 38) :
    Who in their left mind would select WO ahead of Barritt?
    If I was Brad’s father, I would’ve become Cheeky.

  • Comment 40, posted at 30.05.08 11:53:24 by Cru-El Reply

  • @Cru-El (Comment 40) : Brad’s dad was a frontranker. Far too down to earth to get involved in Cheeky-style bullshit

  • Comment 41, posted at 30.05.08 11:55:57 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Brad doesn’t need to go crying to daddy…I just hope he’ll maintain his form in the CC and play with more authority.

    Has he ever thought about growing his hair?

  • Comment 42, posted at 30.05.08 12:05:29 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blackshark (Comment 42) : hasn’t he started already?

  • Comment 43, posted at 30.05.08 12:10:08 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • to me brad does his talking on the field

  • Comment 44, posted at 30.05.08 12:20:43 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @sharks_lover (Comment 32) :

    Maybe we can get Matfield, He plays in both positions at the same time. πŸ™„

  • Comment 45, posted at 30.05.08 12:30:45 by KSA Shark Β© Reply

    KSA Shark Β©
  • @KSA Shark Β© (Comment 45) :

    The only “flyhalf a lock” I rated was John Eales….unfortunately I never saw Frik du Preez play

  • Comment 46, posted at 30.05.08 12:33:21 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • Any change of John Smit returning to the Sharks?

  • Comment 47, posted at 02.06.08 12:27:17 by PaarlBok Reply

  • Not likely PB

  • Comment 48, posted at 02.06.08 12:30:42 by PJLD Reply
  • Wish we can add him at the Stormers but our cupboard of 2s is full. Maybe the Bulle then.

    PJLD the Gimmies cook over the weekend and even Paul Roos klapped the Bishoppers and Landbou for Sacs. 😎

    We have this special annual game (Gim Prymary) vs Bossies (Rondbosch) this weekend. The kids travel from Paarl by train to Newlands , plays hockey on fryday, sleep over with the parents and rugby on saturday. Good stuff and have to give mine a few Red Tale lessons. πŸ™„

  • Comment 49, posted at 02.06.08 12:41:21 by PaarlBok Reply

  • @PaarlBok (Comment 49) : I heard about that hiding PB,about time bishops get brought back down to earth,and what a way to fall.

    Sounds like an awesome trip for the kids hey

  • Comment 50, posted at 02.06.08 13:07:57 by PJLD Reply
  • @PJLD (Comment 50) :

    Ja always a goodie, the stadsjapies can teach the dorpsjapies to chase girls and the dorpsjapies can teach the stadsjapies to “gooi tol” 😎

    Its a bit off topic but here the SA Schools top 20 before the weekend
    1. Grey High of Port Elizabeth
    2. Grey College of Bloemfontein
    3. Paarl Gim
    4. Dr EG Jansen
    5. Waterkloof
    6. Glenwood
    7. Outeniqua
    8. Paul Roos
    9. Monument
    10. Michaelhouse
    11. Bishops
    12. Paarl Boys’ High
    13. Affies
    14. Framesby
    15. HT Middelburg
    16. Noord-Kaap
    17. Marlow
    18. Oakdale
    19 Hugenote of Wellington
    20. Rondebosch.

    Grey PE slamming the Rosers in Stellenbosch last weekend but also the only team that won against them, so a special one for the PE laaities.

  • Comment 51, posted at 02.06.08 15:21:41 by PaarlBok Reply


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