You don’t get more home grown than this…

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Vodacom Cup on 30 Mar 2012 at 12:00
Tagged with : , , ,

Running the rule over the Sharks XV side named to play SWD at Kings Park this evening, it’s astonishing to note that 19 out of the match 22 have come through the Sharks age group structures and the Academy.

With around half of the Sharks Super Rugby tour squad boasting similar credentials, along with an injury list including further Academy alumni in Beast Mtawarira, Julian Redelinghuys, Alistair Hargreaves and Ryan Kankowski, it’s fair to say that the balance seems to have quite firmly shifted in favour of the promotion of locally-developed talent. With the Sharks bringing in relatively few experienced senior players this season, any departures seem to have been back-filled from within the youth ranks and whether his situation has come about by design, or simply through lack of budget, the situation is, to me, a pleasing one nonetheless.

There is not a single member of the Sharks XV pack – starting or reserve – who has not attended the Academy and represented the Sharks at some level of junior rugby, while amongst the backs, Wandile Mjekevu is the only “import” in the starting line up. Mjekevu, though, has been recruited as an under 21 player after being released by the Lions and probably represents exactly the sort of player we should be investing in. The other import is Conrad Hoffmann, while Jors Dannhauser in fact did play for KZN at Craven Week level. His story has a real Cinderella angle to it, though, as he’s fought his way up through the local club scene to come into contention. Jors may not be an Academy boy per se, but this Vryheid lad is a Natalian through-and-through and is just as deserving of the term “home grown”.

Even more impressive is to note the relative increase in the number of boys schooled in the province who are making their way up through the ranks. Westville Boys High has three representatives in the side in Monde Hadebe, Bry Stander and Khaya Majola, with Glenwood’s Fred Zeilinga and Kyle Cooper and Pionier’s Dannhauser the other locally-schooled representatives. The Eastern Cape remains a great source of talent, though, with Allan Dell and Sbura Sithole (both Queens first XV captains and head boys), Tera Mtembu (Dale), Chris Cloete (Selborne), Rosco Speckman (Mary Waters) and Gouws Prinsloo (Marlowe) all hailing from that part of the world. The importance of Grey Kollege as a feeder seems to be dropping off a bit, with only two old boys in Cobus Reinach and Piet Lindeque in the squad, while Peet Marais from Welkom Gim is the third Free State representative. The Western Cape, too, is quite well represented with two Paarl Boys High students in Hofmann and Maks van Dyk, along with Piet-Steph du Toit (Swartland) and Braam Steyn (Paul Roos). The balance hail from the somewhat under-represented northern lands, with Danie Mienie (Merensky), Mjekevu (KES) and Heimar Williams (Affies) having swapped the barren highveld for the golden sands of Durban.

Another interesting observation is that Conrad Hoffmann is the oldest player in the team, at the ripe age of 24!

The challenge for the Sharks is two-fold; firstly, they must prove that this team of players that has been selected and nurtured through the structures has the goods to do the union proud, which means a credible performance in this year’s Vodacom Cup, despite their lack of experience. The second is to ensure that through proper succession planning, as many of these players as possible are retained and groomed for higher honours, with the emphasis continually and firmly placed on promotion from within, rather than recruitment from outside.


  • Absolutely love it good job academy

  • Comment 1, posted at 30.03.12 12:08:50 by RuckingFun Reply
  • And that doesnt even mention all the other academy and Natal schooled boys playing elsewhere

  • Comment 2, posted at 30.03.12 12:10:01 by RuckingFun Reply
  • Any idea how all the other big unions compare?? Would require quite a lot research i think

  • Comment 3, posted at 30.03.12 12:18:23 by RuckingFun Reply
  • As long as those in the VC do get their opportunity in the Snr squad, then it will be a job well done.

    Having the VC full of “home-grown” boys and buying others for the snr team, doesn’t exactly translate. Let’s see.

  • Comment 4, posted at 30.03.12 12:32:44 by JustPlainSHARK Reply
  • When they go out for a team meal do they still get the kiddies menu? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 5, posted at 30.03.12 12:42:11 by Clayton(PJLD) Reply
  • Love it! Keep it up whoever’s responsible for this at the Sharks union!

  • Comment 6, posted at 30.03.12 13:10:16 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • 😯 megatron has not been here to tell us they all come from the eastern cape??????????????? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 7, posted at 30.03.12 13:51:04 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @sharks_lover (Comment 7) : Give it time… :mrgreen:

  • Comment 8, posted at 30.03.12 13:53:23 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @vanmartin (Comment 8) : 😆

  • Comment 9, posted at 30.03.12 13:59:33 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • You gotta love transie, he gives his all for the EC 🙄 😆

  • Comment 10, posted at 30.03.12 14:00:08 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @sharks_lover (Comment 7) : that’s cos I did it for him in the article 🙂

  • Comment 11, posted at 30.03.12 14:09:28 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Reason why I love the Sharks,the opportunities they give to Eastern Cape bred boys,don’t think there’s a Union that backs these Eastern Cape more than the Sharks and that is admirable,am sure two more will come with Johan Meyer and Sphu Msutwana,don’t know if any EP lads were signed on for this year,but the Sharks would do well to look at a couple young lads in the Grey PE backline,Gary Loest,Sergio Petersen and Alex Banfield (younger brother of Chad Banfield,Sharks u19 hooker last year)

  • Comment 12, posted at 30.03.12 14:11:56 by Ludz Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 11) : 😆

  • Comment 13, posted at 30.03.12 14:14:26 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @Ludz (Comment 12) : Very true , and no doubt the EC has loads of talent,

    I wonder if rob can help us re Paul Jordaans brother? if he too as i heard was coming to the sharks, early reports were that he was more talented than paul??

    Maybe Oom rob has some info :mrgreen:

  • Comment 14, posted at 30.03.12 14:16:04 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • I would only really call the KZN schooled boys homegrown.

    Attending the academy can’t be seen as home grown surely. Surely all that means is they were bought / employed (bursaries etc.) at a younger age?

  • Comment 15, posted at 30.03.12 14:27:12 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 15) : While this is great work by SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE. Surely one of, if not THE main, purpose of the Academy is to feed the CC and SR teams.

    Another way to look at this is “What is the use of playing for a club in KZN if only Academy players are chosen?”

    I see the purpose of the academy as little more than a means to identify talent for the senior sides while giving the players the skills/qualifications etc. that they need after their rugby careers are over. In short the Academy is a tool to lure players to Durban without any commitment to contracting them for the future.

  • Comment 16, posted at 30.03.12 14:34:27 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Are there any figures available on how many of these academy players came to Durban at their own cost as opposed to those who have assistance from the KZNRU?

  • Comment 17, posted at 30.03.12 14:41:45 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @sharks_lover (Comment 14) : I have none, but am trying to find out

  • Comment 18, posted at 30.03.12 14:43:23 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • I tried in 2003 (The year I matriculated) to enroll in the acadamy. I could not qualify on rugby credentials alone as I came from a small school who did not play in any official competions at the time. When I enquired back then how much it would cost me if I paid out of my own pocket the sums just did not justify it. So I seriously doubt that there is a whole lot of guys at the acadamy on their own expenses.

  • Comment 19, posted at 30.03.12 16:23:44 by KingRiaan Reply

  • @KingRiaan (Comment 19) : do you still play?

  • Comment 20, posted at 30.03.12 16:25:45 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 20) : Unfortunatly not. A big knee injury three years ago put a end to that. Tried to get back into it, knee just won’t stand for it.

  • Comment 21, posted at 30.03.12 16:32:28 by KingRiaan Reply

  • @KingRiaan (Comment 19) : I don’t doubt the Academy educates the guys well and all that, but just like the Military Attache at a US Embassy usually had a more important underlying objective during the cold war, so to the Academy has a much deeper purpose than being a place to educate and/or develop rugby players. To me that purpose as I mentioned above is to get players into the province early on and then most of the time have 1st go at recruiting them for the senior team.

    And your comment just enforces that feeling for me.

    I’d be curious to know. How did the cost of attending the academy compare to other tertiary institutions?

  • Comment 22, posted at 30.03.12 16:40:22 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 22) : Back then the Acadamy was still in it’s infancy. The prices just for the courses back then compared quite well. But they did not offer financial aid based on academic achievements, obviously.

  • Comment 23, posted at 30.03.12 16:49:06 by KingRiaan Reply

  • “Mjekevu, though, has been recruited as an under 21 player after being released by the Lions and probably represents exactly the sort of player we should be investing in.”

    Why on earth did they release him? Are they mad?

  • Comment 24, posted at 30.03.12 17:49:41 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author

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