New signing Whitehead hopes for more game time with Sharks

2011-11-30 00:00

NEW Sharks signing Tim Whitehead is hoping that coach John Plumtree will provide him with the chances that were denied him this year by Western Province and the Stormers.

The 23-year-old centre joins Griquas and former Springbok fullback Riaan Viljoen as the new faces in the Sharks squad and both players are desperate to make an impact in Super Rugby next year.

Whitehead made his debut at Currie Cup and Super Rugby level in 2010, but this year has been one of disappointment and frustration.

The centre, educated at Grey High in Port Elizabeth, has been in Cape Town since leaving school. In the four years he played in the Varsity Cup with UCT before moving on to Vodacom Cup rugby and then the Province U21 side. He broke into senior ranks in 2010 when he made his Super Rugby debut for the Stormers against the Cheetahs and then played Currie Cup rugby for Province.

Competiton for places in the Stormers squad has been at its most intense in the midfield with Springboks Jean de Villiers, Jaque Fourie and Juan de Jongh under contract, and talented players Johann Sadie and Whitehead were often left on the sidelines. Sadie has now signed with the Bulls and Whitehead sees his future with the Sharks.

“I got a bit frustrated because I wasn’t getting any chances at Super Rugby level, which is obviously the important rugby competition to play,” Whitehead told the Sharks website this week.

“I had a pretty good first half of the Currie Cup before getting a bit of a niggle in my knee and then when the Boks came back, pretty much most of the Province backline sat out the rest of the tournament.”

But he said that his frustrations with injury and selection in Cape Town “had reinforced my decision to move to the Sharks”.

The 90 kg, 1,88 metre Whitehead is a strong attacking player and Plumtree is obviously hoping he will bring a sharp attacking edge to the backline.

The young centre said he is keen to join a successful franchise and one playing “good rugby.”

“I enjoy the Sharks’ style of play, keeping the ball alive and running it from all over the place when there is the opportunity, offloading in the tackle, backing your decision to have a crack when the option is there.

“The Sharks are a winning team … I love the beach and the coast so the Sharks was really the only other South African team I was interested in.”

Whitehead is sharing a digs with another former Western Province player, scrumhalf Conrad Hoffman, and he said he has been impressed with the professionalism and vibe in the Sharks squad.

“Everyone has been welcoming and we have a really good bunch of guys.”

Whitehead underwent groin surgery a month ago and has been in rehab since. But he said he is ready to return to full-time training.

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