Sharks to get new era going

2014-02-15 00:00

NEW Sharks coach Jake White could be rugby’s equivalent of “the Special One”.

It’s been written time and time again that White has an impressive CV to his name: U21 World Cup winner, Tri Nations winner, World Cup winner and Super Rugby runner-up.

Everywhere he has been, like the original “Special One”, White has delivered the goods.

And after reviving the fortunes of the once great Brumbies franchise, many would have believed the next step for him was to replace Robbie Deans when the ARU sacked him.

But, instead they went for Ewen McKenzie and the rest, as they say, became history. It was Australian rugby’s loss, and the Sharks’ gain.

Tonight, the Sharks march out on the King’s Park turf to begin a new era under the man who transformed not only the Brumbies, but the Springboks before that.

And this time, he has been tasked to bring the Super Rugby title to these shores. And having almost gone all the way with a Brumbies squad without such depth, many believe he can do it this time around.

So much has been said about the Sharks’ impressive depth, that “if loose forwards were money, White would be a rich man”.

It is that richness in talent that affords him the luxury of leaving a player like Jean Deysel on the bench and Jacques Botes completely out of the match day 23.

Warm-up games aside, tonight’s encounter will leave the King’s Park faithful with a clear idea of what to expect from White’s Sharks.

For the Sharks to get the new era going they will have to get over their first game jitters and make sure they do the job against an inexperienced Bulls side that will rely later on in the game on the old leadership shoulders of their inspirational former skipper, Victor Matfield.

White looked on the bright side, saying that the return of the legendary lock should help young pup

Pieter-Steph du Toit grow in the game.

Speaking on Matfield’s return earlier this week, White said, “If that means that we turn Pieter-Steph into a better player because he has to go up a step or two now that Victor’s eligible, then it’s so much better for South African rugby. We want Pieter-Steph to get all the help he can to become the best player in that position.”

White also surprised many by naming Ryan Kankowski ahead of Deysel, one of his three new vice-captains. Kankowski recently returned from his annual Japanese outing with the Toyota Industries Shuttles and maybe needed some time to acclimatise to Super Rugby conditions.

But, White has been saying time and time again that the shaggy-haired Kankowski is the ideal player he needs for the type of rugby he wants the Sharks to play this season, noting that he was fast and strong, and was experienced at Test match level.

The Sharks look well covered in all areas of the park, and should everything they have worked on in pre-season be executed, White’s men could give Frans Ludeke’s Bulls a tough time, both at the front and the back.

If White does deliver the goods for the Sharks, then many supporters in the province will sit up and start to believe that maybe he is the Special One.

Tonight’s game at King’s Park will kick off at 7.30 pm and will be officiated by Jaco Peyper.


Sharks: 15. SP Marais, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Frans Steyn, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Anton Bresler, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Tendai Mtawarira Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Stephan Lewies, 20. Jean Deysel, 21. Charl McLeod, 22. Heimar Williams, 23. S’bura Sithole

Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 J J Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Flip vd Merwe, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Victor Matfield, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Handré Pollard, 22 Ulrich Beyers, 23 Marcel vd Merwe


Cheetahs vs Lions at 5.05 pm at the Free State Stadium.

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