It’s the John and Jake show!

Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)

I thought it a pretty astute, if slightly greedy, move by the Sharks to sign Cheetahs and Bok tighthead prop Lourens Adriaanse last year. Jannie du Plessis has been hopelessly over-played in recent years, so it makes sense to have back up for the Bok stalwart. But it is not as if Wiehahn Herbst had a bad season last year … He had been called up to a Bok camp after all.

So to then go and sign Saracens and England prop, Matt Stevens, just smacks of gluttony!

Especially given that they also have a prop who reportedly weighs in at 130kg’s and is over 1.9m tall on their books. Thomas du Toit is from Paarl Boys High and is only 18 years old, but is already part of the Sharks Super Rugby squad …

“He comes from a great school, a great prop factory and he’s a really big unit. Sometimes you are lucky enough to catch one of these youngsters who just have the whole package” enthused director of rugby, Jake White, when talking to Sharks World about the youngster earlier in the week.

Throw in Beast Mtawarira and Dale Chadwick, and that is prop stock that puts a good few international sides to shame! And while very aware of the tightrope I walk when discussing the merits of men known to hover a little longer than most around a buffet, of course I jest re the gluttony!

“It’s no secret that Jannie is getting on now and that Beast is just a year or two behind him. We need to make sure that we’re developing the next tier of guys and Matt is the kind of player that allows you to blood youngsters around him and can help guide them through. The fact that he can easily play on either side of the scrum just gives us options; we can use him at 3 while we blood a young loosehead, or the other way around,” said White of the Stevens signing.

It probably would not have been “allowed” to happen if player contracting was done centrally, but it is yet another clever move from the men in Durban. I am not sure how long the honeymoon will last, but as it stands, the White and John Smit “marriage” is working like a charm.

Off the field as well, it would seem … I actually cannot remember when last I saw Kings Park as full as it was for Saturday’s Super Rugby game against the Bulls.

And while it was by no means a “cracker”, to score 4 tries in the Durban February humidity takes some doing. Look, the Bulls have some serious issues to address - Francois Hougaard looks angry and unhappy with the world, and it just cannot be right for one of your bench, no matter what he has achieved in a previous life, to have a walkie talkie in his hand - but to cruise past them while not really getting out of second gear is impressive.

And while the Bulls are being eaten alive for a “boring” kick-and-chase game, the Sharks only had one less kick out of hand than the Bulls (29 to 30 according to the new Vodacom Rugby Stats App). But it was the effectiveness of said kicks, and where they came from, that counted. While the Bulls tended to kick from 9 and 10 only, 5 of the Sharks kicks came from 12 and 13. Meaning they committed a few more defenders to the line (in case the centres took the ball up), leaving them more space to kick into. It is something the All Blacks do very well.

New CEO, new sponsors, new head coach, new signings, new energy, new thinking … It is fantastic for South African rugby. But please just be a little humble this time round Sharks fans!

Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt

Disclaimer:
Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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