Botes banking on young guns

2014-08-23 00:00

THE Sharks have enjoyed a good start to the Currie Cup but have a notoriously tough game against the Cheetahs this evening in Durban.

In years gone by, the Sharks have been upset by the Free State side, but Sharks veteran flank Jacques Botes, who is playing in his last season for the side, believes that the mix of youth and a good philosophy has done wonders for the side.

“It’s tough to compare to the many seasons gone by, but if you compare it directly to super rugby, there’s quite a lot of young guys who bring a lot of energy but we’ve got a couple of old heads around,” he said.

He believes that the omission of Springboks in this year’s Currie Cup is a blessing for all the teams as it creates a level playing field. The 33-year-old believes the Sharks are busy building a strong foundation for years to come.

“This is really a great time for us as a team to develop. We’ve got a philosophy that we really want to front up this Currie Cup,” Botes said.

The most experienced campaigner in Currie Cup history has spent a lot of time helping younger players and has been a mentor to new captain Tera Mtembu.

“I think it’s been part of the process but he’s taken to it like fish to water, it’s been natural for him. All in all, he’s done a great job so far,” said Botes.

Another exciting prospect is Francois Kleynhans, who has come through the Sharks Academy and has been impressive for Durban Collegians in local club rugby in the past few years. He starts on the other side of the scrum alongside Botes and Mtembu.

“We’re really excited for Frana, he’s definitely a guy for the future for us. I’m excited to be playing with him. He’ll definitely take a load off come breakdown time. He’s raring to go you know — he hasn’t played a lot in the beginning of the year,” Botes said.

Considering the Cheetahs history of upsetting the Sharks at King’s Park, Botes believes there still isn’t much between the teams.

“They traditionally have the same kind of game plan. They like to play with width but against us they sometimes tend to keep it a bit tighter,” he said.

“We’ll be very tired after the game because we will have to defend quite a bit. They are similar to us, especially in the way they use their forwards, so it’s going to be a battle to see who can enforce the game plan the best,” the veteran said.

The Sharks host the Cheetahs in Durban tonight. The game starts at 7.10 pm.

Sharks team (15-1): SP Marais, Odwa Ndungane, S’bura Sithole, Paul Jordaan, Tonderai Chavhanga, Fred Zeilinga, Cameron Wright, Tera Mtembu (Captain), Francois Kleinhans, Jacques Botes, Marco Wentzel, Etienne Oosthuizen, Matt Stevens, Kyle Cooper, Dale Chadwick.

Replacements: Franco Marais, Thomas du Toit, Lourens Adriaanse, Stephan Lewies/Johan Meyer, Conrad Hoffmann, Heimar Williams, Lionel Cronje.

Free State Cheetahs team (15-1) : Clayton Blommetjies, Rayno Benjamin, Francois Venter, Joubert Engelbrecht, Raymond Rhule, Willie du Plessis, Sarel Pretorius, Jean Cook, Neil Claassen, Tienie Burger, Francois Uys, Carl Wegner, Dolph Botha, Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), Kevin Stevens.

Replacements: AJ le Roux, George Marich, Henco Venter, Vincent Jobo, Shaun Venter, Pieter-Steyn de Wet, JP du Plessis.

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