- Sharks head coach Sean Everitt again purred over blossoming front row talent Ntuthuko Mchunu.
- Mchunu has been converted from the back row to loosehead prop, where he’s excelling.
- "He knows where he’s going and he knows how to get there," said Everitt.
Sharks head coach Sean Everitt once more gushed about promising front-rower Ntuthuko Mchunu, saying the youngster had developed quicker than originally thought.
Mchunu set tongues wagging last weekend when he scored a rampaging 50m try against the Lions, beating defenders like a seasoned outside back and unlike the loosehead prop he has become.
The 21-year-old made way for incumbent No 1 Ox Nche for the Sharks’ final preparation match against the Bulls at Kings Park on Friday night, with Mzamo Majola on the bench, but left a marked impression on his coach and rugby fans alike with his stellar outings.
"He’s come through a lot quicker than we thought and I’m sure you’ve all witnessed that," said Everitt.
"He had three fantastic games in a Sharks jersey. I thought maybe he got one or two scrums wrong against the Lions but that’s what’s going to happen when you’re playing in only your third game at senior level at loosehead prop and scrumming against experienced guys like Jannie du Plessis.
"He’s certainly a very exciting prospect for us, one that we are going to nurture but I can see him rising into the top spot in the near future."
What makes the Maritzburg College old boy, Mchunu, more impressive is that he is doing everything in an unfamiliar front row position, having converted from No 8, where he played his rugby at school.
His career trajectory, build and dynamism has been accurately compared to Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira’s, who arrived at the Shark Tank as an eighthman and departed a revered 100-capped Springbok.
Watching the youngster hold his own in the pack, you wouldn’t say Mchunu is still learning the wares and dark arts of a prop.
Everitt explained the reasons behind Mchunu’s positional switch and added that his humility and drive would see him grow to become one of the top players in the country.
"Ntuthuko, as we know, was a No 8 but he’s not really tall enough to be a good lineout option" Everitt said.
"No 8’s are normally used in the lineout as well as the No 7 flank. He needs to be a good jumper.
"[But] if you look at his build coming into the Sharks and his height, his body is perfectly suited to loosehead prop.
"Add that to the athleticism he has, the pace and speed he showed last week, then you’ve got a super powerhouse there, if he gets his fundamentals and primary role right, which is scrumming.
"He’s a wonderful boy. He’s humble and he knows that he’s in a growth process.
"He only played three Under-21 games last year at loosehead prop. So, all in all, he’s only played six games at loosehead prop, of which three have been at senior level and he’s excelled.
"He’s also a responsible and diligent young man who was head boy at a great school with good rugby traditions. He knows where he’s going and he knows how to get there.
"But he’s getting there faster than what we think."
Friday's clash at Kings Park kicks off at 19:00
15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Emile van Heerden, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Rynhardt Jonker, 23 Aphelele Fassi
15 Richard Kriel, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Marnus Potgieter, 12 Dawid Kellerman, 11 Diego Appollis, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Nizaam Carr (captain), 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Werner Gouws, 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Jan Uys, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Schalk Erasmus, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes: 16 Janco Uys, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Raynard Roets, 20 WJ Steenkamp, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 Jay-Cee Nel, 24 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 25 Reinhardt Ludwig, 26 Bernard van der Linde, 27 Niel Beukes