Tera to lead Sharks

2014-07-30 00:00

NEW Sharks captain Lubabalo Tera Mtembu is relishing the prospect of leading the union in the Currie Cup, saying his appointment was a dream he never imagined would happen so early in his career.

The East London-born loose forward was unveiled as the 72nd captain of the Durban franchise and steps into the hotseat a little over two years after first making his senior debut back in 2012.

“It was something I had dreamt about since I was a youngster, but I never thought it would happen so quickly,” he told a press conference at King’s Park yesterday. “I’m really looking forward to it in some exciting times for the union and for myself.

“I’ve got a lot to learn still, hopefully I can learn quickly and succeed in my new role.”

The 23-year-old came through the Sharks Academy, before making his Super Rugby and Currie Cup debuts in 2012.

His impressive leadership qualities led to new director of rugby Jake White handing him the captaincy duties whenever he was not on senior duty during this year’s Vodacom Cup, and his adaptation in the role seems to have clearly impressed the former Springbok boss.

Mtembu, who stands at 1,87 metres tall and weighs 103 kg, initially struggled to break his way into the Sharks team under White, but found favour during the second half of the season when he played in six out of eight games.

He admits that he will have “big boots to fill” as he follows in the footsteps of some great leaders of the Durban union over the years.

However, he was adamant that with the support of the few senior players who will be available during the season, he can thrive in the new position.

“We have a pretty young squad and one or two old heads,” the Amanzimtoti Rugby Club player said.

“There’s guys like Jaques Botes and Odwa [Ndungane] who will help me along, so if I need to ask anything I can just tap them on the shoulder.”

Mtembu, who succeeds Keegan Daniel, a player who went to the same famous Eastern Cape school, Dale College, added: “I look forward to the challenge ahead and know that I will have the support and backing of our coaching staff, younger players and the senior group of players in our squad.

“As a team, we will work together to ensure that we reach the goals we set-out for ourselves in this year’s competition.”

Brad Macleod-Henderson, the forwards coach, will lead the Sharks during the Currie Cup as White takes a back seat.

He confirmed that Mtembu’s appointment was received with widespread approval by senior players in the squad. “The others are very excited for Tera,” Macleod-Henderson said.

“They are fantastic individuals and he will have their full support.

“Tera is an outstanding and intelligent player with a bright future ahead of him. He will do a fantastic job and I look forward to working with him during the campaign.”

Jake’s ‘Jack of all trades’ role

JAKE White will fill a “Jack of all trades” role during the second half of 2014, according to chief executive officer John Smit.

“He’ll spend almost no time with the senior Currie Cup squad,” the Sharks chief said. “He’ll be busy doing a rugby audit on where we are, so spending time with the academy, looking at the structures, time with the U19s and U21s and looking at where we are in terms of players as a union.”

Smit also confirmed that the Sharks had signed utility back

Lionel Cronjé from the Brumbies, White’s former team.

“He has been handed a two-year deal and arrives in Durban on Sunday,” the former Bok skipper added. “He will be available immediately.”

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