White: Sharks Super Rugby squad stronger than last year’s Brumbies

2014-02-12 00:00

COMPARING apples to apples, Jake White believes the squad available to him at the Sharks for this year’s Super Rugby is stronger than his finalist Brumbies side from last year.

The Sharks announced the squad that would be taking to the field this year, and it is obvious why they have been rated as South Africa’s best hope of bringing the Super Rugby trophy to this side of the Indian Ocean.

With some of the most seasoned campaigners in the game, the Sharks also have some exciting youngsters to create the perfect balance between youth and experience.

White said: “I’m very happy with the depth we have here.

“The talent here is phenomenal and I can compare apples with apples. Comparing a side like the Brumbies, who came second last year, to a franchise like the Sharks, I can say that there is unbelievable talent here, from 19-year-olds right up to the Springboks,” he said after announcing his squad.

White has a strong forward pack available to him, which could include seven Springboks on its best day, but having revealed his plans earlier this week, the backs will be key to the Sharks’ hopes of reaching the promised land and winning their first Super Rugby title.

JP Pietersen, returning in March, should be a huge boost for White’s men, who also have a favourable start to the season with two byes early on.

Pietersen’s Japanese side Panasonic Wild Knights triumphed in the Top League final as they defeated Fourie du Preez’s Suntory Sungoliath 45-22 yesterday, Sport24 reported.

Amongst the new players White included in the squad, highly rated youngsters Tim Swiel, and strongly built 19-year-old André Esterhuizen were waiting in the wings to make their mark. The 20-year-old Swiel is rated as one of the most promising young flyhalves in the country and was the top scorer as Western Province stormed their way to the U21 Currie Cup title last year.

Esterhuizen was handed a chance when the Sharks played against Saracens in London two weeks ago and handled himself well against the then Aviva Premiership leaders.

There was also space in the squad for former Springbok, Cheetahs and Stormers speedster Tonderai Chavhanga, who holds the record for most tries in a Test match.

The Zimbabwean-born player scored six tries in his Test debut against Uruguay in 2005 as a 21-year-old, and big things were expected of him. However, due to injuries, his career never really took off. Now aged 30, Chavhanga will be able to offer some experience and as White said last week, he would be a valuable member of the team, and can play anywhere across the back at fullback and on both wings.

“We are settled,” White said of his team. “We have senior players, Currie Cup winners and a positive energy, which is great. It’s just an added bonus that we have a settled group.”

The Sharks 2014 Super Rugby Squad

Lourens Adriaanse, Willem Alberts, Jacques Botes, Anton Bresler, Dale Chadwick, Marcell Coetzee, Kyle Cooper, Tonderai Chavhanga, Keegan Daniel, Jean Deysel (vice captain), Bismarck du Plessis (captain), Jannie du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Thomas du Toit, Andre Esterhuizen, Tyler Fisher, Hansie Graaf, Monde Hadebe, Paul Jordaan, Ryan Kankowski, Patrick Lambie (vice captain), Stephan Lewies, Peet Marais, SP Marais, Charl McLeod, Tendai Mtawarira, Tera Mtembu, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane (vice captain), Etienne Oosthuizen, JP Pietersen, Cobus Reinach, S’bura Sithole, Francois Steyn, Tim Swiel, Stefan Ungerer, Jaco van Tonder, Heimar Williams, Fred Zeilinga.

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