Sharks name new captain

2011-07-13 00:00

COMBATIVE flank Keegan Daniel, who was again unlucky to be overlooked by Springbok coach Peter de Villiers, has been appointed the Sharks’ Currie Cup captain.

The 26-year-old Daniel will take over from veteran Stefan Terblanche who led the Sharks to the Currie Cup title last year.

Daniel’s appointment was confirmed yesterday by coach John Plumtree who said the loss of a large number of experienced team leaders to the Springboks has offered the Sharks an opportunity to make a change in the captaincy.

“I’m giving Keegan the opportunity to stamp his mark on the team and our franchise. He is a good choice because he’s so passionate about the jersey and he’s been a really consistent performer over the last couple of seasons. It is the respect which the team has for him and he has for the Sharks which is behind the appointment.

“Stefan [Terblanche] will be his vice-captain and he has the necessary wisdom and experience to help out.”

Daniel said he is “excited”“ by the challenge.

“I got a taste of it in the Currie Cup last year and I’ve been very blessed to play under great leaders like Johann Muller, Stefan Terblanche and John Smit. They’ve been mentors in my life and being close to them has helped me develop and grow not only my game but my mental maturity as well.”

Daniel said part of his job will be nurturing the youngsters in the squad. “When you have this responsibility you have to understand how different people work and what makes them tick. That’s going to be key. This is a young group of players and the faster we can come together, and understand each other and what kind of game we’re trying to play, the better it’s going to be for us in the long run.”

The Sharks open the defence of their Currie Cup title against the Blue Bulls at King’s Park on Saturday evening and Daniel said the players know what to expect.

“We all remember a few weeks ago when we had to go up to Loftus and do a job. The Blue Bulls have been playing a particular style of rugby for a number of years and we know what to expect from them. I think it’s always a great game and really physical.”

Daniel said the Bulls will be in the same position as the Sharks, with young players wanting to make an impression.

“I’m excited for our youngsters and for the team to come together and put out a great performance in the first week of the Currie Cup. “

Plumtree said the King’s Park crowd could be pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm and energy in the new-look Sharks side which will be missing some 16 senior players.

“The Bulls are in the same boat as us and we are both depleted so it will be interesting to see what type of game it is in terms of quality.

“The Bulls always have depth and they’ll have a good side, but we’ve come together quite nicely over the last couple of days and we will get better as the season goes on.”

The Blue Bulls have a new Currie Cup coach in Pine Pienaar and Plumtree said it will take time for him to make his mark.

“I’m sure he [Pienaar] will be looking forward to getting into the Currie Cup and he’ll be fresh - not like this old coach,” he added with a smile.

Plumtree said the massive disruption since Super Rugby ended has made preparation difficult. “We were expecting to lose some guys to the Boks, but certainly not this many — 13 players in all — with some going on tour and others forced to rest up.

“It’s great to have fantastic representation from the Sharks and we want them to perform to achieve those higher honours. But I would say that Keegan has been unlucky after his consistent Super Rugby season.”

The loss of so many players has placed pressure on the Sharks, he said.

“In the last three or four years, we’ve had a similar coaching philosophy throughout our age grades, and that’s helped with the transition as players have stepped up.

“It has made it easier for them and players like Anton Bresler, Jandre Marais, Wiehahn Herbst, Julian Redelinghuis, Dale Chadwick and Kyle Cooper, all youngsters we’ve had in our system, have been doing the same thing in their age group and Vodacom Cup teams.

“The transition has been seamless and they’ve fitted in nicely. We have a fair bit of experience in the backline with not too many changes and [former Springbok centre] Marius Joubert’s learning curve has been pretty steep this week,” said the Sharks coach.

Saturday’s match against the Blue Bulls at King’s Park kicks off at 5.05 pm.

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