Daniel back at the helm

2016-08-04 06:00
PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES Flanker Keegan Daniel has been named to lead the Sharks during the upcoming Currie Cup campaign.

PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES Flanker Keegan Daniel has been named to lead the Sharks during the upcoming Currie Cup campaign.

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KEEGAN Daniel, the experienced former Springbok loose forward, has signed a three-year contract with the Sharks and was rewarded by being named as the 2016 Currie Cup captain.

The Sharks open their Currie Cup campaign against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday night and Robert du Preez, who has taken over from Gary Gold as head coach named his 40-man squad on Monday.

The 31-year-old Daniel made his debut at King’s Park a decade ago and has won 209 Currie Cup and Super Rugby caps. He has led the Sharks on 58 occasions and was in charge when they won the Currie Cup in 2013.

He returned to Durban earlier this year after a two-year stint in Japan and has now committed himself to the Sharks for the next three years.

“Keegan is someone who leads by example and sets the pace not only on the playing field, but at training and off the field,” Du Preez said.

“We have a young and enthusiastic squad and his experience and strong leadership will certainly provide the necessary mentorship, guidance and calming influence within our team environment.”

Du Preez has named a strong mix of Super Rugby regulars, seven capped for the Springboks, and 11 players who are still eligible to play at U21 level.

The squad are particularly strong at forward and Du Preez can field an experienced Super Rugby pack. He is particularly well served at lock with JC Astle returning from the doomed Eastern Province union to challenge Eteinne Oosthuizen, Stephan Lewies and Ruan Botha in the second-row while there will be intense competition at loose forward with Daniel, Philip van der Walt, Du Preez’s twin sons, Jean-Luc and Daniel, Tera Mtembu and Jean Deysel all in contention.

The Sharks’ backline depth is less impressive. Wandile Mjakaevu and Lukhanyo Am, who were on loan to the Southern Kings, are back but fullback Rhyno Smith has returned to the Leopards. Leopards and Junior Springbok flyhalf Bernhad Janse van Rensburg has joined youngsters Garth April, Curwin Bosch and Inny Radebe in the squad.

Missing are Springbok squad members Pat Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo, Beast Mtawarira and Coenie Oosthuizen while Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen, Joe Pietersen, Paul Jordaan, Marcell Coetzee and Kyle Cooper have joined overseas clubs.

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