Sharks enter uncharted waters under new coaching staff

2013-08-09 00:00

THE Sharks will enter uncharted waters at King’s Park tonight when their new coaching staff take them into the Currie Cup opener against Griquas.

Chief executive John Smit is determined to create “something fresh and special” at King’s Park and he has been unconventional in appointing his coaching staff. This has brought some confusion over whether it is the Cape-based Brendan Venter, as director of rugby, or Brad Macleod-Henderson who is actually steering the ship.

Of course, the proof will be in the playing and the uncertainty and confusion of the past weeks will be swept aside if the Sharks blossom and produce stylish, winning rugby.

Experienced Sharks flank Jean Deysel says the players have embraced the change.

“We’re finding it exciting as players to train under the new coaching set-up. We’ve been working hard with new ideas, but there is still plenty of the old stuff there as well.”

The imposing Deysel said that Griquas, coached by Pote Human, would provide quality opposition.

“They have their own brand of physicality and they’re never easy opposition, home or away.”

Captain Keegan Daniel said that Venter had made tactical and structural changes, which had succeeded at London club Saracens.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the pre-season training, we’ve worked very hard , but it’s been good,” Daniel said. “You can see his passion and involvement in training, and he just wants to see a high work rate from all the players. He’s very intelligent, he’s done his homework and is very thorough.

“I think the guys have enjoyed the new voice and a new way of thinking,” the Natal captain said.

Venter, who is the Sharks’ director of rugby and/or head coach, said that Griquas would provide tenacious opposition:

“They are a clever outfit and they know how to do well in the Currie Cup. They’ve recruited a lot of old hands and it will be a tough start for us.”

Human said that his Griqua players would struggle against “a Super Rugby franchise that had tough competition for months while we played in the Vodacom Cup”.

(In fact, half the Sharks starting line-up tonight played little or no Super Rugby this year).

Griquas have been boosted by the return of lock Rynard Landman, Springbok squad member and prop Lourens Adriaanse and hooker Ryno Barnes from the Cheetahs’ Super Rugby squad. Human is also delighted to have attracted former Springbok Hilton Lobberts to Kimberley from Cape Town.

Landman had excelled in the Cheetahs’ line-out, Human said, and was a valuable addition to the pack.

In spite of the forecast of rain this evening, the Sharks are looking for a bright start to their Currie Cup challenge, and they have the tools to do the job.

While the abrupt changing of the guard has split Sharks supporters, a run of victories will quickly cover the cracks. Conversely, an unconvincing showing will immediately place the untested coaching staff under pressure. There is much at stake at King’s Park tonight.

TEAMS

Sharks: 15. Odwa Ndungane, 14. Sizo Maseko, 13. Louis Ludik, 12. Tim Whitehead, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Butch James, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel (captain), 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Brynard Stander, 5. Marco Wentzel, 4. Edwin Hewitt, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Dale Chadwick. Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Rayno Gerber, 18. Peet Marais, 19. Tera Mtembu, 20. Cobus Reinach, 21. Fred Zeilinga, 22. Jaco van Tonder.

Griquas: 15. Gouws Prinsloo, 14. Nico Scheepers, 13. JP Nel, 12. Howard Mnisi, 11. PJ Vermeulen, 10. Francois Brummer, 9. Jacques Coetzee, 8. Burger Schoeman, 7. Jaco Nepgen, 6. Marnus Schoeman, 5. Ligtoring Landman, 4. Hilton Lobberts, 3. Lourens Adriaanse, 2. Ryno Barnes (captain), 1. Steph Roberts. Replacements: 16. Matt Dobson, 17. Nick Schonert, 18. Jonathan Adendorf, 19. Carel Greeff, 20. Marnus Hugo, 21. Du Randt Gerber, 22. Rocco Jansen.

Kick-off: 7.10 pm. Referee: Jason Jaftha.

There will be no charge for women (on Women’s Day today) and children.

Tomorrow’s Currie Cup fixtures:

Golden Lions vs Free State, 3 pm; WP vs Blue Bulls, 5.05 pm.

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