Junior player exodus continues

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 1 Nov 2011 at 11:22
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With the Varsity Cup continuing to prove a powerful draw card to Sharks Academy graduates on the fringes of senior selection in Durban, the haemorrhage of young talent from the province looks set to increase ahead of the 2012 season.

It has long been feared that the lack of a Durban-based Varity Cup team would drive young players to seek their fortunes elsewhere and with the Sharks developing an unwanted reputation for overlooking their own juniors in favour of pricey imports, it’s not surprising to see a slew of young talent leaving the region ahead of next year. This situation was exacerbated earlier this year when the successful Zululand Rugby Academy, which has provided many good players into the Sharks junior ranks over the last few years, opted to relocate to the Border region to join forces with the Southern Kings franchise – taking promising players such as Dwayne Jenner and Ryno Olivier along with them.

We have already reported that the Cronje twins are set to join up with the Lions, with Guy in particular likely to play Varsity Cup rugby for UJ. Another young flyhalf, Willie du Plessis, left earlier in the year to join Tukkies and even played for the Bulls under 21 side against his old team in Saturday’s final. Tukkies mentor Heynecke Meyer started recruiting from the Sharks Academy last year already, with flyhalf Wes Dunlop, centre Arno van Zyl and forward Nqubeko Zulu and Luvo Lusaseni all representing the whites in the 2011 Varsity Cup. New names heading down to Pretoria ahead of 2012 include Vodacom Cup players in Jerome Pretorius (centre), Wynand Pienaar (fullback), Lee Thompson (flank) and Sabelo Nhlapo (prop), while Sharks under 21 lock Mike Williams will also make Tukkies and the Blue Bulls his home in the new year.

The NMMU Madibaz are also on a strong recruitment drive, with a number of fringe players from the Durban club ranks on their way down to the Bay for 2012. Names to mention here include last year’s under 21 centre Howard Mnisi, along with the Rovers pair of Anton Verster (scrumhalf) and Roy Godfrey (prop). Dev Lailveaux, Quinton Crocker and promising former under 21 opensider Jaco Otto are also understood to be on their way to NMMU. Additionally, under 21 flyhalf Drew Norton has moved down to the Cape to study at UCT, where he will be available for the Ikey Tigers Varsity Cup team.

We’ve also been told that Ukranian lock Karolis Navickas has left Durban to join up with the Bath Academy in the UK.

The Sharks Academy, in short, is doing a wonderful job in preparing young schoolboys for successful professional rugby careers. It would be great, though, if more of those careers could be in the black and white of the Sharks, rather than elsewhere in South Africa.


  • Patience is needed…there will soon be Varsity Cup rugby in Durban and no i dont mean UKZN! Players will be coming to Durban then as well it is the best city to live in!

  • Comment 1, posted at 01.11.11 11:32:11 by SheldonK Reply
  • @SheldonK (Comment 1) : is it happening, Sheldon? Can you mail me some details?

    I was chatting to Steven and Barrel about it, but haven’t heard much in terms of progress…

  • Comment 2, posted at 01.11.11 11:37:46 by robdylan Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 1) : This is great news!

  • Comment 3, posted at 01.11.11 11:39:28 by mbay-shark Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : Yeh Barrel is your best resource in terms of info. Seems like they not increasing the comp in 2012 but they will in 2013 and then yeh its only a matter of time i think with the playing resources available here!

  • Comment 4, posted at 01.11.11 11:42:52 by SheldonK Reply

  • Mike Williams wud be a big lose to us. 😥

    If Mike leaves it in a way amongs to him sort of giving up on his own aspirations to play provincial rugby one day unless he’s given give some kind of guarantee of a starting spot in the Bulls u21 team.

    Looking at some of the fantastic young locks that the Bulls have acquired for 2012, he’ll find the going tough.

  • Comment 5, posted at 01.11.11 12:09:48 by beet Reply
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  • @beet (Comment 5) : then again, the way the Varsity Cup is picking up, it might among to a way of fast-tracking the way to the top, provided a young player produces the goods.

  • Comment 6, posted at 01.11.11 12:11:25 by beet Reply
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  • @beet (Comment 6) : I think you’re spot on there…

  • Comment 7, posted at 01.11.11 12:12:38 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 7) : I’ll like to see us win the u21 trophy next year and so keeping big Mike is an absolute must in my books. I think our guys need to sweeten the deal or at least hop into bed with one of the smaller Varsity teams to loan them our players who desperately want exposure.

  • Comment 8, posted at 01.11.11 12:21:18 by beet Reply
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  • Sjoe, thems is alot of names

  • Comment 9, posted at 01.11.11 12:22:44 by Clayton(PJLD) Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 7) : You realise that if so much as 1 u20 team sheet appears on the TV screen before 1 televised Varsity Cup u20 game next year, the Sharks youth development are doomed.

    Well not doomed but it will suffer a major setback.

  • Comment 10, posted at 01.11.11 12:23:25 by beet Reply
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  • @beet (Comment 8) : that ship, I believe, has sailed… big pity because it leaves us short of a good foil for Pieter-Steph next year.

  • Comment 11, posted at 01.11.11 12:24:06 by robdylan Reply
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  • @beet (Comment 10) : plans are afoot… 🙂

  • Comment 12, posted at 01.11.11 12:24:53 by robdylan Reply
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  • Playing Varsity Cup rugby has become even more attracted for a young player than any of the Union’s academies. The NRU needs to fully invest in the Varsity Cup sides in KZN if they want to keep quality youngsters around.

  • Comment 13, posted at 01.11.11 12:33:50 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 13) : I think when Rob eventually gives us the new u19 signings for 2012 (diarise June 2012 for this announcement :mrgreen: ), we’ll have a better idea of how much damage the Varsity Cup has done.

    We’ve had to wrestle with Varsity Cup Unions to retain 2 of our promising schoolboy players and several other valuable players are on their way to the Bulls. This in a region that produces less than its fair share of talent to begin with 🙁

  • Comment 14, posted at 01.11.11 12:44:00 by beet Reply
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  • I was told that attempts were made at the inception of varsity cup to have a participant from KZN. The union/academy were prepared to play ball but at the time the university of KZN was disinterested.
    I saw that the Univ of KZN (Dbn) played, albeit pretty unsuccessfully, in the Varsity Shield comp last year.

    It will be interesting to see which institution will be the vehicle and how the union, academy and clubs support them.

    The reality is that Varsity Cup probably enjoys better exposure than Vodacom Cup at the moment and will continue to grow.
    WP (and OFS) for some time have integrated their two varsity Cup sides with the proffesional set up and contracted players have been deployed to develop when not playing for the Vodacom Cup side.
    Lately the lions (UJ) and Bulls (Tuks) have started to follow this integrated approach.
    It will be fantastic if KZN does find a way to participate but the Varsity vibe and student crowds also need to be a part of the deal and I am just not sure where you get can get that in natal at the moment.

  • Comment 15, posted at 01.11.11 12:47:53 by steve Reply

  • @steve (Comment 15) : and the Pukke have always done it with the Leopards.

    We’re the only suckers being left behind. And everyone that hates us and wishes we were back in the B-section of rugby must be loving this.

  • Comment 16, posted at 01.11.11 12:55:21 by beet Reply
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  • @beet (Comment 14) : You know if we were a bit clever about building structures here in SA (hahahaha), we would use the Varsity Cup and Vodacom Cup to get players ready that could easily fill in at Super Rugby level. Why isnt there a Varsity Cup side and Vodacom Cup side in Every province…the players that come through the schools system then play for that side or get loaned to other sides where there is a shortage etc. This will create a natural progression from school to varisty to senior and then finally onto the top level. It would then be easy to select the various national age group sides. I am talking about a Utopia here and I know money and tradition will prevail and it will never happen.

  • Comment 17, posted at 01.11.11 12:57:15 by SheldonK Reply

  • Frederic Michalak wants to come back to Europe in order to make an international return for France, the Natal Sharks flyhalf said on Tuesday.

    Michalak, the Currie Cup’s top scorer with 192 points, left Toulouse in May to sign for the Sharks where he also played one season in 2008.

    “I know they would like to extend my contract but I want to come back to Europe next summer because I want to play with Les Bleus again and that is easier when you play in Europe,” he told French sports daily L’Equipe.

    Michalak, 29, won the last of his 54 caps against Wales in the 2010 Six Nations Championship.

  • Comment 18, posted at 01.11.11 12:58:43 by Rvw Reply

  • @beet (Comment 10) : Varsity Cup contracts clash with Vodacom Cup requirements so playing in the U21 Currie Cup from July is possible.
    Varsity & U19/21 CC dont clash from a timing point of view – quite a few players who played Varsity Cup for teams other than UJ played U21 for the Lions this year – Andries Coetzee & AJ le Roux played for Tuks, Ruan Combrinck for Maties, and Anthony Volminck for UWC.

  • Comment 19, posted at 01.11.11 12:59:08 by steve Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 17) : The thing is you need sponsorship and a target audience to attract the sponsors. Students in this case.

    Junior CC and club rugby is very poorly attended. Now they have found a product that has a crowd, tradition and sells. And they were smart enough to put it on Monday night.

    For junior rugby, the real money wud be at the point where you create an overlap with schoolboy rugby – players playing for their schools after they’d finished school. The brand, the tradition and the following is already in place. If someone could get it right to market it, it could potentially double the size of school leaving rugby participants.

  • Comment 20, posted at 01.11.11 13:03:09 by beet Reply
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  • @steve (Comment 19) : I know this but no one attends Varsity for just half a year or gets contracted by a union for just half a year at the moment.

    It’s a better deal for an u19/u20 player to head to a Varsity Cup union for the calendar year/s right now.

  • Comment 21, posted at 01.11.11 13:05:44 by beet Reply
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  • @beet (Comment 20) : Yeh I agree with you that money talks and sponsors only come onboard once there is an audience. I just find it strange that KZN is the only major Union without a Varsity Cup side, yes i know thats because our varsity isnt the best sporting wise but still. Hopefully this will be corrected soon but until then there is no major pull to come to KZN or the Sharks academy cos we both know players coming out the academy dont exactly get many chances at the Sharks.

  • Comment 22, posted at 01.11.11 13:12:21 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 17) : I dont think that what you are talking about is utopia – I think that that is exactly how it is moving in some of the other provinces and was certainly the vision that the guys who put varsity cup together had.
    Quite where Varsity cup and Vodacom Cup fit together needs clarity.
    The problem in KZN, and i feel that I can say this as an alumni of the University of Natal, is that the sporting ethos on those campuses has largely declined.
    I remember a young UN Durban side beating Tuks in the club champs in about ’87 with players like Stranskey and Andrew Aitken. This was in no small part due to work put in by Wynand Claasen in the early 80’s after he left Collegians to go and play for the then 2nd div Dbn Varsity.
    He believed and I agree with him, that a strong University rugby presence was good for the province.
    That is the challenge.

  • Comment 23, posted at 01.11.11 13:16:18 by steve Reply

  • @steve (Comment 23) : Hey Steve remember those days when the Varsity was strong.

    Do you know that the old scrummy Brett Lambert’s son James is now the Kearsney wing and ace goalkicker.

    Didn’t Tony Watson and Jonathan Roche also play in that Varsity team?

    I so agree with you. The atmosphere and spirit at the Durban Varsity campus has been non-existent for quite some time and Maritzburg is nothing like it you to be.

  • Comment 24, posted at 01.11.11 13:20:36 by beet Reply
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  • @beet (Comment 21) : I wonder how many contracted varsity Cup players these days are legitimate full time students?
    I know that most of the young contracted Lions guys are registered at UJ but many of them are taking the scenic route to completing their studies.

  • Comment 25, posted at 01.11.11 13:22:30 by steve Reply

  • @steve (Comment 23) : The problem is that the Sharks Academy is not aligned with UKZN and thus it is not attractive to go to varsity or play there. There is no varsity in KZN with any real presence if that makes sense?

  • Comment 26, posted at 01.11.11 13:26:28 by SheldonK Reply

  • @steve (Comment 25) : they’ve changed the rules though…. you have to have passed x% of your subjects the year before in order to keep playing.

    I don’t think the percentage is all that high, though 🙂

  • Comment 27, posted at 01.11.11 13:29:53 by robdylan Reply
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  • @beet (Comment 24) : I am sure that they were both in that side. The late Shaun Gage may have been as well. Around then a young Gary Teichmann would have been started playing for maritzburg varsity.
    kearsney are certainly looking strong for the next few years although i am surprised to see the sons of Michaelhouse old boys turning up in maroon 😉

  • Comment 28, posted at 01.11.11 13:33:59 by steve Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 27) : I know what’s going to happen here. The team with the smarter players will be the best. The smarter you are the less you have to study and the more time you will have to attend Rugby practise! 😆

  • Comment 29, posted at 01.11.11 13:36:27 by Ben Reply
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  • Turn Dan Adonga into a lock! He’s never gonna get a shot a looseforward at The Sharks…Lots of Top qaulity in those positions. Adonga i think is 1.96m and we all know how athletic he is, so should be easy to get him up fast and high in the lineouts. He could be the next Courtney Lawes.

  • Comment 30, posted at 01.11.11 13:42:26 by JJR Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 27) : I think the rules are that u have to a full time student under 25 and have had to pass 30% of your subjects the year before. But my question is, what if its the 1st year they registered? They could drop out after VC…

  • Comment 31, posted at 01.11.11 13:43:10 by SheldonK Reply

  • @JJR (Comment 30) : I think that’s where his future will lie… unless his hands and general ball skills can improve drastically.

    Problem is, there are so many young locks…

  • Comment 32, posted at 01.11.11 13:44:19 by robdylan Reply
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  • @JJR (Comment 30) : 100% correct!

  • Comment 33, posted at 01.11.11 13:44:50 by SheldonK Reply

  • @steve (Comment 28) : I remember Shaun Gage. He had such a promising future ahead of him after moving back down here from Transvaal. I’m sure he wud have made Boks

    BTW I met a good MHSOB on the sidelines at College as well. His son was Ungerer’s backup and played a number of games. Bompas is the name. Very nice guy. Maybe you know him?

  • Comment 34, posted at 01.11.11 13:47:56 by beet Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 26) : makes perfect sense – hence my comment about a suitable institution. I’m not sure that you can play Varsity Cup with a “franchise” type of set up – the student crowds and traditions are such an integral part.
    I guess you have to start somewhere though, and I believe that Varsity cup is going to become more NB as a developer of players, which is why I made the point about what Wynand started at Durban Varsity at a time when rugby on that campus was also pretty weak.
    Ideally I would like to see varsity Cup as a tournament for U22 year olds (maybe with exceptions for a defined % of genuine mature students – post grads & medicine etc)and for Vodacom cup to become a type of Currie Cup B team also age limited to say U25.

  • Comment 35, posted at 01.11.11 13:51:22 by steve Reply

  • @Ben (Comment 29) : Guess who’s been watching too much Miss South Africa auditions :mrgreen:

  • Comment 36, posted at 01.11.11 13:51:30 by beet Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 32) : I initially thought playing some SA Sevens would help his ball skills and he could be a solid looseforward; but we have as said, soo many bladdy good looseforwards in Durban, and finding out that Williams and Navickas are gone (My two favourite U/21 Locks), Adonga looks like a good option for Lock…he has played a bit there already, so it makes sense. And we know The Sharks place huge focus on the ball carriers, and having Dan at lock would give us another one on the field.

    Bresler is solid; but not quite the there, yet, but he is young. Also Marais, also needs more time to develop. Hopefully we play Adonga at lock in the pre-season games and see how he goes. Paul Jordaan should also get a run at 13…We only currently have Jacobs who i rate in the 13 position. We have many options for 12, just choosing the right one. Also want to see Fred have a game at 9, and Pat at 10. Hoffman and Mcloed make way too many basic errors for my liking.

  • Comment 37, posted at 01.11.11 13:54:29 by JJR Reply
  • @JJR (Comment 37) : funny you mention Jordaan at 13… been having some good discussions with quite knowledgeable people who reckon he might be best used at 13

  • Comment 38, posted at 01.11.11 13:58:13 by robdylan Reply
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  • @beet (Comment 34) :
    Cant say i do
    @SheldonK (Comment 31) :
    Or simply register for a subject or two – which is what I believe happens – Principles and Practise of the Braai 101 😉

  • Comment 39, posted at 01.11.11 14:00:37 by steve Reply

  • Fred at 9 could be good; cause if he leaves for France, again, we need a backup for Pat to be ready. JLP has many good attributes and can offer something different, just needs to get some game-time. It doesn’t look like he has been complaining by his lack of gametime…and i really like that, he deserves a good run to establish himself permanently in our 22.

  • Comment 40, posted at 01.11.11 14:01:31 by JJR Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 38) : I have always thought that 13 is best suited to him. Why? Brilliant runner with the ball, and a great finisher. At 10, he is expected to pass(His kicking game is not that natural to him, despite what he may think), and rarley has a chance to show off his running skills, at 12 it’s better, but his defence is not quite abrasive enough for 12…13 looks like a perfect fit for the insanely talented Jordaan!

    Rob, has Paul’s Bro been signed, yet? He was sick in the Craven week. Imagine in 3-4 years having both of them in The Sharks starting 15! Bit off topic, again. I really think Viljoen can do a job for us at 12. Solid aggresive defender, strong, runs hard, good distribution and him and Pat can alternate from 10/12 making it hard for the defence to read play…just a thought 🙂 I Like Odwa at 15…can’t have Mvovo sitting on the bench.

  • Comment 41, posted at 01.11.11 14:06:37 by JJR Reply
  • @JJR (Comment 41) : Pieter Jordaan is only in matric next year… so unless we want to be like the Bulls (signing them while still in nappies) we will need to wait a bit for his signature.

  • Comment 42, posted at 01.11.11 14:11:45 by robdylan Reply
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  • Sorry for triple posting 🙂

    My Favourite 22 for superugby 2012 would be-


    17.Van Staden

    Adonga, Kleinhans, Hoffman, Herbst, Bresler, Joubert, Sithole, Cooper- Makes the rest of my 30 man squad.

  • Comment 43, posted at 01.11.11 14:19:53 by JJR Reply
  • @JJR (Comment 43) : and Ryan Kankowski? What does he do for the season?

  • Comment 44, posted at 01.11.11 14:21:39 by robdylan Reply
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  • @JJR (Comment 41) : Jordaan seems to hav fitted in at 10 pretty well for the u21s so it would be a big shift to 13 as a 13 runs off the playmaker. I know thats what he did at school so may be worth a shot. He just looks like a good playmaker and would suit 12…perhaps with Bosman at 13?

  • Comment 45, posted at 01.11.11 14:21:42 by SheldonK Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 42) : Just scared that a team like The Bulls could beat us to it, at least having Paul in Durbs will probably make it an easy decision for Baby jordaan…i hope.

  • Comment 46, posted at 01.11.11 14:22:08 by JJR Reply
  • @SheldonK (Comment 45) : don’t think Bossie has the pace for 13

  • Comment 47, posted at 01.11.11 14:22:24 by robdylan Reply
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  • @JJR (Comment 46) : I’ll ask his brother if there’s been any progess

  • Comment 48, posted at 01.11.11 14:22:54 by robdylan Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 45) : At 10 he doesn’t show his best…watching the u/21 final…i was like dammit just attack the defence! I think 12 would be good for him if he ups his aggression in the tackle. Still think 13 is his best. His steps are insane, and they are most effective when he is running onto the ball from deep at pace(Outside centre ;)). I have also read that he was the fastest player in the SA Sevens team last year…we won’t see that from 10 or 12. 13 is the right place where he can fully display all his skills, IMO.

  • Comment 49, posted at 01.11.11 14:25:44 by JJR Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 47) : @JJR (Comment 49) : I remember him playing his best rugby at 12 at school outside a creative 10 (which we have in Lambie). I wud have to agree with u Rob that Bosman may lack pace at 13 and he is a very good 10/12. JLP wud be a great 13…and offers another kicking option..

  • Comment 50, posted at 01.11.11 14:30:32 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 50) : SA schools (Also SA u/20) he played 13 when Small-smith got injured, and he scored the winning try against England. He scored because he was put in space and used his step and speed to beat defenders, very rare to find that type of space at 12.

    Ja, I think Bosman is a great 10, if he only had a kicking game, he would be very good. He attacks the gain line well from 10 and his distribution as we all know if probably one of the best in the world…his long passes are brilliant.

    Actually going to be very hard for Plum to choose who plays 10,12,13…we don’t really know what combination is going to work best.

  • Comment 51, posted at 01.11.11 14:35:25 by JJR Reply
  • The reality is that we lose a hell of a lot of players to the VC sides…and now with the new rules that you have to sign and study for a year just makes it that much harder as the players are not allowed to leave after the compo is done and are resigned to staying for a year…i think that the compo is much better and more organised that the vodacom cup and thats why it is so popular…look @ the players making it into the Boks and Boks 7’s recently and getting provincial contracts…they all stem from the Varsity Cup and not the Vodacom Cup…

  • Comment 52, posted at 01.11.11 14:52:20 by Barrel Reply

  • @JJR (Comment 51) : Yeh i remember that try against England, and he scored a similar one at Craven week. But as we both know there is a big difference between u18 and Senior level. I think if we had Bosman in between Lmabie and Jordaan it wud be the perfect mix of youth and experience, creativity and composure.

  • Comment 53, posted at 01.11.11 14:53:35 by SheldonK Reply

  • Another guy to look out for in the Future is Dean Moolman, has the potential to be a great 12 for the Sharks in Future. Played Sharks U/19 this year aswell as for the KZN craven week side. A type of player The Sharks have not had at 12 for ages.

  • Comment 54, posted at 01.11.11 16:44:37 by JJR Reply
  • @JJR (Comment 54) : He’s going to the Bulls 🙁

  • Comment 55, posted at 01.11.11 17:09:34 by beet Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @beet (Comment 55) : Dammit…c’mon Rudolf! We need to keep guys like that…we havn’t had a physical 12 at the Sharks since Steyn. Sucks!

  • Comment 56, posted at 01.11.11 18:17:19 by JJR Reply
  • @JJR (Comment 56) : thats TRUE!

  • Comment 57, posted at 02.11.11 19:02:58 by sharktooth Reply


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