Anybody got a spare lock?

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 4 Jul 2013 at 15:14
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As the Currie Cup season approaches, the Sharks find themselves in a real pickle when it comes to fit second row resources. With both Anton Bresler and Pieter-Steph du Toit out injured for the bulk of the season, there’s a mad dash going on in the background to find enough available locks to allow a decent matchday complement for the upcoming campaign.

I remember, a few years ago, writing an article in which I highlighted the superb second row depth that we had coming through in the province, boldly making a prediction that the Sharks surely wouldn’t want for quality lock forwards for several years to come. How, then, have we ended up in the situation where we’ve had to play a borrowed Lion in every Super Rugby game – and currently only have four contracted senior locks on our book, two of whom are injured and a further one who was hastily brought in from Griquas less than a fortnight ago? What’s more, during the course of this season alone we’ve seen one of the few we have, Jandre Marais, announce his decision to leave for France, while there remains considerable doubt about our ability to retain another, Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Where have all the locks gone? How is it that despite our youth programs, our Academy, our vast resources and everything else we have going for us, the Sharks simply cannot seem to attract and retain talent in the second row?

As I’m occasionally wont to do, I’ve decided to dig a little deeper and have compiled a list of virtually every guy who has played in the second row for the Sharks, at any level from under 19 up, over the last five years. Over the course of those five years – the “Plumtree Era”, if you will – 35 different players have been sourced, tried, tested and all bar 8 of them have either been discarded, or have opted to leave of their own volition. Of those 8, half are currently still on junior contracts, so there’s of course no guarantee that any will graduate to become senior team regulars. Of the 27 who are no longer with us, all bar three are still playing rugby. Only Johann Ackermann, AJ Venter and Albert van den Berg have retired, the rest have simply gone.

It’s quite interesting to divide these players into two quite clear “groups”. There are those who were brought in – often at considerable expense – only to move on shortly afterwards. I’m thinking of the likes of Gerhard Mostert and Ross Skeate, who were given chances ahead of local boys, but rather than opting to stay, rather went abroad. We have, of course, lost a few genuine “Sharks men” in their prime – I’m thinking Johann Muller and Steven Sykes – but by far the biggest group of players are those who have been forced to move on after being “found wanting” by the coaching staff. In short, I’ve identified in excess of 20 young locks, all of whom were brought in, groomed and then discarded. Now, I’m not saying for a moment that all of those boys would have made it, but surely if our development processes were working – and if the senior coaches were aligned with those processes and systems – we could surely have turned 5, or even 10, of those young locks into realistic senior options? Bear in mind that the Sharks don’t cast the net particularly widely to begin with, when offering junior contracts, making it all the more vital to get maximum “bang for buck” from each player that is brought in.

Locks at 2m tall or above are, in particular, at a real premium in Sharks country, with only du Toit (2.00m) and Stephan Lewies (2.02m) reaching that height. A lack of height in the lineout is something that is a real concern – and obviously you can’t coach a player to be taller – making it all the more disappointing that more couldn’t be done with the likes of Johan Schoonbee and Myles Tucker (each a whopping 2.06m), or that strong Lithuanian lock Karolis Navickas (2.02m) couldn’t get a look in after under 21 level. These are just a few examples. I’ll leave you to peruse the list below at your leisure and notice how many other provinces and teams seem to be profiting from the Sharks unwillingness to invest in developing second row talent.

Name Height Age Current location
Addo Wessels 1.96 22 Border
Lee Thompson 1.92 24 Bulls
Nqubeko Zulu 1.94 25 Bulls
Francois Robbertse 1.95 24 Club Rugby
Gerrit Fourie 1.95 23 Club Rugby
Nikolai Blignaut 1.93 28 Club Rugby
Paul Sanders 1.98 22 Club Rugby
Gerhard Mostert 1.99 28 France
Jandre Marais 1.98 24 France
Karolis Navickas 2.02 23 France
Ross Skeate 2.01 30 France
Johann Muller 2 33 Ireland
Meyer Swanepoel 1.98 24 Italy
Daniel Adongo 1.98 23 Kings
Steven Sykes 1.98 28 Kings
Kene Okafor 1.97 22 Leopards
Luvo Lusaseni 1.95 24 Leopards
JC Wasserman 1.98 22 Leopards
Johan Schoonbee 2.06 23 New Zealand
AJ Venter 1.98 40 Retired
Albert van den Berg 2.01 39 Retired
Johan Ackermann 1.96 43 Retired
Anton Bresler 1.98 25 Sharks
Edwin Hewitt 1.96 25 Sharks
Peet Marais 1.98 22 Sharks
Pieter-Steph du Toit 2 20 Sharks
Gideon Koegelenberg 1.99 19 Sharks u19
Dave Fisher 1.96 20 Sharks u21
Stephan Lewies 2.02 21 Sharks u21
Wiehan Hay 1.98 21 Sharks u21
Alistair Hargreaves 2 27 UK
Mike Williams 1.96 21 UK
Johan Snyman 2 27 Wales
Mike Rhodes 1.96 25 WP
Myles Tucker 2.06 20 WP



  • so, you read that, as a young lock…. are you going to sign for the Sharks?

  • Comment 1, posted at 04.07.13 15:20:47 by robdylan Reply
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  • Marko Wensel for a Sharks Stint, he want to return to SA soon….call the man….naughty as hell, but full of experience and a Good Player….OR here is something new Lets Pick the Best youngster in the Pecking Order…Peet MARAIS…eDWIN hEWITT(LOW WORKRATE) SChoonbee will come back i am sure. AND IF WE ARE REALLY WITH it….lets get this MAN for the Long Run

    Quinn Roux
    HEIGHT 196 cm

    WEIGHT 117 Kg

    BIRTH DATE 30 October 1990

  • Comment 2, posted at 04.07.13 15:29:55 by BoerSeun Reply

  • Rob, so out of all those, who do you believe had the talent to play at the highest level? And how many of those players have become 1st choice players for their new clubs?

    Oh, and by the way, nice article!

  • Comment 3, posted at 04.07.13 15:33:06 by Bump Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 1) : very cool article, but if we do this in all positions I’ll get sick with disgust. Some really Good Players like Rhodes, Wheatley, Adongo(not really), Marias that we lost…Myles Tucker was also a very Good Prospect. Koegelenberg??? by Brother thinks he is the real deal.

  • Comment 4, posted at 04.07.13 15:43:17 by BoerSeun Reply

  • Just glad the Plum/van Zyl dictatorship has been dismantled. 😈

    Hopefully the above stats will be a thing of the past.

  • Comment 5, posted at 04.07.13 15:52:16 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • Nikolai Blignaut… He showed a lot of promise when he first stepped up to the senior side. Don’t know why they don’t give him another shot?

    Johann Muller was a great player & leader – I’d love the Sharks to sign him back up. Wishful thinking!

    If Plum was still there then I’d expect them to announce the signing of Albert van den Berg for the Currie Cup 😆

  • Comment 6, posted at 04.07.13 16:08:27 by Gazman Reply

  • Great article Rob. Theme applies far beyond locks only.

  • Comment 7, posted at 04.07.13 16:15:24 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 7) : thanks kwagga. And yes.

    You can do the same in any position, I guess. This one is just particularly relevant since we’ve now got no fkin locks left

  • Comment 8, posted at 04.07.13 16:30:50 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Bump (Comment 3) : so I think we often look at how few of your players have gone on to really excel elsewhere. It’s possible that we’re missing the point in looking at it that way. Maybe these boys are never going to reach their potential because we simply didn’t do enough with them early enough?

    The ones I wish we could have kept – and done more with – are Schoonbee, Snyman, Navickas, Adongo and Williams.

  • Comment 9, posted at 04.07.13 16:39:46 by robdylan Reply
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  • This crisis makes the sale of Hargreaves all the more baffling.

  • Comment 10, posted at 04.07.13 16:51:15 by PTAShark Reply
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  • Navickas and Mostert were the biggest losses for me personally…Navickas had so much potential and Mostert would probably be a regular in the Green and Gold right now if he didn’t leave.

  • Comment 11, posted at 04.07.13 17:06:01 by JJR Reply
  • @PTAShark (Comment 10) : Lewies will eat hargreaves for breakfast 🙂

  • Comment 12, posted at 04.07.13 17:06:43 by JJR Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 9) : Williams…he would have had a number of Sharks caps by now had he not left. He chose Varsity Cup over Currie Cup/superugby…strange one 😕

  • Comment 13, posted at 04.07.13 17:08:52 by JJR Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 8) : you can add Wouter Moore to that list. Players for Beziers in the ProD2 in France. 2.04m & 120kg. Played for Sharks in 2006/2007 if I remember correctly

  • Comment 14, posted at 04.07.13 17:09:46 by slammerboy Reply
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  • Jandre Marais is the biggest lost to the Sharks!!!! He is the real deal and with be a great lock!!!! Mark my words he will play international rugby!!!!!

  • Comment 15, posted at 04.07.13 17:13:32 by JD Reply
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  • I have found another. Claude Dry played for the Sharks U21 side in 2006 before heading overseas to France. For the past 3 years he played for Dax in the PROD2. This season he has joined Pau. He is 2.03m and 118kgs. Went to Maritzburg College

  • Comment 16, posted at 04.07.13 17:18:22 by slammerboy Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @slammerboy (Comment 16) : I recognise the name.

    Another that I somehow missed is Nolan Clarke. Can’t remember where he ended up.

  • Comment 17, posted at 04.07.13 17:21:30 by robdylan Reply
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  • quite a few I left out….

    Nolan Clark 1.99m 29 years old Boland
    Ruahan van Jaarsveldt 2.05m 28 years Italy
    Pampoen van Jaarsveldt 1.99m 28 years ???

  • Comment 18, posted at 04.07.13 17:25:45 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 17) : Playing for Boland this year.

  • Comment 19, posted at 04.07.13 17:26:23 by slammerboy Reply
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  • I know this is not rugby related but history being made, first ever South African to wear the yellow jersey in the tour de france , Darel Impey you legend

  • Comment 20, posted at 04.07.13 17:31:14 by BR Reply
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  • coincidently it is the same city Hunter became the first south african to win a stage, Montpellier seems to be a happy hunting ground for SA riders.

  • Comment 21, posted at 04.07.13 17:34:20 by BR Reply
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  • BR thanx for that news, hope he can keep the yellow jersey.

  • Comment 22, posted at 04.07.13 17:52:23 by JD Reply
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  • No no no. Whats this about maybe losing psdt?

  • Comment 23, posted at 04.07.13 19:22:52 by West Indies Cricket Board Reply
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    West Indies Cricket Board
  • @West Indies Cricket Board (Comment 23) : he’s agent is screaming “show me the money!!!!!!!!!!” 😕 Just hope the Sharks can get him to sign again!!!!!!

  • Comment 24, posted at 04.07.13 19:36:33 by JD Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 1) : Hell yeah I would.

    It seems all one needs on your CV is to say you have had a stint at the Sharks to find a job at a club somewhere out there, regardless of how anonymous you are.

  • Comment 25, posted at 04.07.13 20:30:36 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @JD (Comment 24) : Gerrie Maguire does have a nice ring it!

  • Comment 26, posted at 04.07.13 20:49:26 by slammerboy Reply
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  • Heard Carlo de Fava who played for Italy might be coming back. Nic Strauss was another but played loose forward more, now in France. What happened to SA Schools locks Jayden Hill and Ricky Schnetler?

  • Comment 27, posted at 04.07.13 21:23:02 by Grasshopper Reply

  • What about Wade Elliott and Brendon Groenewald? Where are they?

  • Comment 28, posted at 04.07.13 21:29:56 by Grasshopper Reply

  • great article Rob……what about props!!!!scrummies and so on..cannot work put the ethos behind the Sharks…

  • Comment 29, posted at 04.07.13 21:34:43 by kagun Reply

  • funny thing Mike Williams captained the U/19 side …..sharks had no room for him…what a brilliant captain and with Worcester Tigers

  • Comment 30, posted at 04.07.13 21:38:30 by kagun Reply

  • @Grasshopper (Comment 28) : Groenewald is a loosie…. makeshift lock at best.

    As for Elliot…. I’m not sure how I missed him out. Should be there. Still in the system, right? Under 21s this year?

  • Comment 31, posted at 05.07.13 00:18:03 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 31) : ya he’s u21, he was very good in last year’s u21 campaign. I think he’ll play blindside

  • Comment 32, posted at 05.07.13 08:06:56 by Ludz Reply

  • here’s another one

    Ernst Ladendorf 2m 21 years old Border

  • Comment 33, posted at 05.07.13 08:36:22 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Ludz (Comment 32) : According to SA Rugby, Elliot is only 1.92m tall. I don’t know if that’s correct, but if so, that’s not tall enough to play lock at senior level.

  • Comment 34, posted at 05.07.13 08:37:00 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 33) : I don’t know how the Sharks let this guy go, he is so good. I watched him for Border u21s, he’s very good. Wade is too short, blindside will do

  • Comment 35, posted at 05.07.13 08:51:17 by Ludz Reply

  • Its quite simple. Those that went overseas went for money, those playing club rugby are way off the pace, those who went to smaller unions went there cause they wernt going to make it in the senior teams and the four still in the junior ranks at the Sharks are still learning. The two in WP have not done anything – Rhodes is a walking injury and the two in Bulls country – never heard of them either Biggest loss there was probably Mike Williams

  • Comment 36, posted at 05.07.13 09:19:48 by BBB Reply

  • @Ludz (Comment 35) : I just checked. Ladendorf and Lewies played the whole under 19 season as a combo in 2011. We actually had a lock combo with an average height of over 2m!

  • Comment 37, posted at 05.07.13 09:33:32 by robdylan Reply
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  • @BBB (Comment 36) : the majority of the guys you’ve written off as worthless are still in their early 20s, which is very young for a lock.

    And without being rude, just because you’ve “never heard of” a player doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re useless. I bet most of them have never heard of you either. 🙂

  • Comment 38, posted at 05.07.13 09:35:13 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 38) : ha ha I’ve never heard of BBB

  • Comment 39, posted at 05.07.13 09:41:46 by slammerboy Reply
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  • You using terminology “worthles” and “useless”, not me! Just not good enough would be more accurate

  • Comment 40, posted at 05.07.13 10:03:43 by BBB Reply

  • @BBB (Comment 40) : so buying in no-names from Griquas at 48 hours notice is a better strategy?

  • Comment 41, posted at 05.07.13 10:15:02 by robdylan Reply
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  • Nice article Rob

  • Comment 42, posted at 05.07.13 10:28:19 by The Hobbit Reply
    The Hobbit
  • @robdylan (Comment 37) : ya, they played behind Allan, Franco and Maks

  • Comment 43, posted at 05.07.13 10:52:22 by Ludz Reply

  • @The Hobbit (Comment 42) : thanks my buddy!

  • Comment 44, posted at 05.07.13 11:08:14 by robdylan Reply
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  • Why not offer Franko Plums` salary until PsdT or Bressler recover?

    Or wait till after the relegation match and sign both the losing locks on a temporary basis?

  • Comment 45, posted at 05.07.13 11:53:41 by Original Pierre Reply
    Original Pierre
  • I saw Myles Tucker play when the Sharks u19s were here at Loftus last year.

    He was raw but you cannot coach 206cm and 115kg for a 18 year old. What other locks in this country have those stats??? He was mobile & showed aggression when the Bulls came with their cheap shots.

    Yeah he is raw, but these guys are teenagers, the point of an academy is to develop them. They’re not the finished product yet.

    Now we’re struggling & he was allowed to leave. Very sad

  • Comment 46, posted at 05.07.13 12:27:05 by disgruntled shark Reply

  • Why do the Sharks lose their locks – simple reason – no investment in Jandre Marais, a local boy. The investment was shown in a very average loan player in Franco v/d Merwe. We then see an average looking Hewitt take the field ahead of the Marais brothers and we wonder why the young locks are giving their middle finger to the Sharks management.

    With Plum gone, hopefully this short sightedness will be a thing of the past.

  • Comment 47, posted at 05.07.13 14:24:28 by Saffex Reply

  • No good crying about spilled milk, just hope they don’t carry on with this by losing PSDT.

  • Comment 48, posted at 05.07.13 18:23:57 by JD Reply
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