Rugby news from KwaZulu-Natal:
While it is not a novel idea, the concept of having a dual leadership set-up for the Cell C Sharks’ Currie Cup campaign is all about development and growth within the side and building for the future.
The Cell C Sharks have a good mix of experienced, battle-hardened players and some exciting and talented youngsters which bodes well in the team’s defence of the title they hold after defeating Western Province in last year’s final to be crowned Currie Cup champions.
In announcing Jeremy Ward and Tera Mtembu as the Cell C Sharks co-captains, head coach Sean Everitt explained the reasoning behind this decision.
“We looked at the make-up of the squad and the theme of the campaign which is all about growth,” he began.
“This campaign is about growing the squad, growing the individuals and bringing the youngsters through and this is the perfect opportunity, going forward, to develop a guy like Jeremy who has shown outstanding leadership qualities.
“It also takes the pressure off Tera a little bit. He’s been the Cell C Sharks’ Super Rugby and Currie Cup captain in the past and I thought it would be good for Jeremy to have someone to lean on. Tera is coming back from injury and at times we will give Jeremy the reins to lead the team.
“So it is more to grow the leadership in the group than having an experienced leader going into this campaign.”
Co-captain Tera Mtembu admitted that a leadership role wasn’t something he had considered. Instead it was focusing on getting back onto the field and contributing to the team’s success.
“I didn’t see it coming to be honest,” he said. “I’m just grateful to get another opportunity to play and all credit to the management staff, everyone played their role. And thanks to the coaching staff for giving me this opportunity.
“I want to add value where I can and enjoy every single moment.”
Co-captain Jeremy Ward will also have a big role to play in the competition. A deadly defender and an exciting attacking centre, his leadership abilities have been well documented, particularly as the captain of the SA Under 21s in the World Rugby Under 21 Championship.
“I’m so excited, it’s a huge responsibility – I recognise and understand that – but an opportunity for me as a young leader to learn from Tera which I’m really excited to do, and also to work in a new role within the team,” he explained in the lead-up to Friday’s opening Currie Cup clash with Griquas at Jonsson KINGS PARK.
“I don’t believe you need a leadership title, the challenge for all of us is to enhance the leadership within the team and Tera and I plan on doing that.
“We want the youngsters who are coming through to step up. To empower them to play their natural game.”
Friday night’s round one match kicks off at 7.15pm.
Seeking the Hat Trick:
The Cell C Sharks Under 21s travel to Pretoria to take on the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under 21s on Friday afternoon looking to back up two excellent performances with a third in a top of the table clash.
Consecutive victories for the Cell C Sharks Under 21s against their Golden Lions (23-12) and Western Province (36-22) counterparts have provided a good start to the team’s campaign in the SA Rugby Under 21 Championship, but they will have their work cut out for them when they meet the undefeated Blue Bulls Under 21s at Loftus this weekend.
The Blue Bulls have scored an average of over 60 points in each of their three clashes to date with bonus point wins sending them to the top of the overall log with maximum points. The Cell C Sharks are in second place with 10 points ahead of Free State, Western Province, the Leopards and Golden Lions who have all won one match in the current competition.
The coaches have made a number of changes to last week’s side, including an entirely new front row with James Scott coming in for Sean Barnes at loosehead prop, Dylan Richardson shifting from flank to hooker in place of Fezo Mbatha (injured) and Cleopas Kundiona replacing Francois Klopper at tighthead.
The locking pair remains unchanged, however Vian Fourie takes over from Richardson at flank and Adam Mountfort starts at eighthman for Celimphilo Gumede.
Changes in the backline see Jaden Hendrikse in for Sanele Nohamba who is poised to make his Currie Cup debut for the Cell C Sharks. The World Rugby Under-20 Championship ‘Breakthrough Player of the Tournament’ nominee forms a new half-back partnership with Murray Koster – replacing Boeta Chamberlain – while Le Roux Malan comes off the bench to start in the number 12 jersey vacated by Koster.
The final change sees Caleb Dingaan named on the wing in place of Sicelo Tole who will play off the bench.
Cell C Sharks Under 21s
- James Scott
- Dylan Richardson
- Cleopas Kundiona
- JJ van der Mescht
- Jeandre Labushagne
- Vian Fourie
- Evan Roos
- Adam Mountfort
- Jaden Hendrikse
- Murray Koster
- Henk Cilliers
- Le Roux Malan
- Muller du Plessis
- Caleb Dingaan
- Thaakir Abrahams
- Cullen van der Merwe
- Francois Klopper
- Sean Barnes
- Marcell Barnard
- Lunga Ncube
- Xavier Swartbooi
- Rynhardt Jonker
- Sicelo Tole
Air of Excitement:
The Cell C Sharks team selected to play the Tafel Lager Griquas Griquas shows some strong continuity for the opening round clash of the 2019 Currie Cup competition which kicks off on Friday night when the two teams meet at JONSSON KINGS PARK.
Newly appointed head coach Sean Everitt hasn’t hesitated in naming a number of youngsters on the bench, but it is in the starting line-up, from 1-15, where we see such familiar faces.
Ten players for Friday evening’s starting line-up were selected in the Vodacom Super Rugby quarter-final match against the Brumbies, with a total of 13 from the matchday 23 which allows for continuity.
Two players who cut their teeth at the Cell C Sharks, one a Rugby World Cup winner, have been named in the matchday 23. JP Pietersen’s arrival from France has been a revelation and he will start alongside co-captain Jeremy Ward at outside centre while Craig Burden plays off the bench as the replacement hooker.
Ward’s co-captain Tera Mtembu is part of a quality pack that will no doubt be tested against the tough Griquas’ forwards who will relish the opportunity to have a go at their Durban counterparts, while the backline has an exciting, but very settled look about it.
The match kicks off at 7.15 on Friday night.
Cell C Sharks
- Juan Schoeman
- Kerron van Vuuren
- Coenie Oosthuizen
- Ruben van Heerden
- Hyron Andrews
- Luke Stringer
- Jacques Vermeulen
- Tera Mtembu (co-captain)
- Cameron Wright
- Curwin Bosch
- Lwazi Mvovo
- Jeremy Ward (co-captain)
- JP Pietersen
- Kobus van Wyk
- Aphelele Fassi
- Craig Burden
- Mzamo Majola
- John-Hubert Meyer
- Gideon Koegelenberg
- Phepsi Buthelezi*
- Sanele Nohamba*
- Marius Louw
- Rhyno Smith
*Denotes that if the player comes off the bench he would make his Currie Cup debut for the Cell C Sharks.