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The ones that got away


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Lions, Original Content, Other SA Teams, Sharks on 14 Jul 2011 at 07:49
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

The Sharks side for the Currie Cup match against the Blue Bulls will be named later today and is expected to contain somewhere in the regions of 14 players who have come through the Sharks Academy and age-group ranks. Perhaps more impressive, though, is the number of players named in other Currie Cup sides that have also attended the Academy.

As regular readers will know, I’m somewhat of an aficionado of youth rugby at the Sharks and I tend to take quite an interest in following the careers of many of the age group players, including those who go on to play for other teams. I was fortunate enough to interview Shark Academy MD Hans Scriba some years back and I remember him telling me that the Academy’s goal was first and foremost to produce young men capable of playing professional rugby, even though they obviously could not all play for the Sharks. While the Cheetahs, Western Province and Blue Bulls have their own successful youth programs in place, it is interesting to note that every other premier division side named for this this weekend’s opening round of the Currie Cup contains at least two former Sharks Academy students and with this in mind, you have to acknowledge that the Academy is doing what it says on the tin.

I had a quick chat with Leopards flanker Renlado Bothma this week (who incidentally tells me he hasn’t had a beer in four weeks and feels great!) whose path to the premier division has taken him on a whirlwind trip that started with the Sharks under 21 side, then moved on to the Lions and has now ended in Potchefstroom. the 1.89m and 104kg openside flank was a surprise pick straight from the age-group ranks when he made his senior Currie Cup debut for the Lions last year and has been named to start in the number 6 jersey for Leon Boshoff’s Leopards side. On the other flank is another former Shark, Luvuyiso “MB” Lusaseni, who was a Sharks stalwart before leaving to play for Griquas last year. He moved on to the Tukkies Varsity Cup side before joining Boshoff’s side.

In a frankly bizarre twist, the Leopards have a third Sharks academy loose forward on their bench in Thabo Mamojele as well. That’s in addition to Big George Tossell (a former Sharks under 21 centre who now uses his 107kg frame to devastating effect at fullback) and Danie Dames, who played wing for the Sharks at Vodacom Cup level. For those counting, that’s five players out of 22 in the Leopards squad that came through our structures.

The Pumas have three former Sharks juniors on their bench this week, in Tiaan Marx, Tian Meyer and Carl Bezuidenhout. Meyer is well-known, having been an “almost member” of the Sharks Super Rugby squad this year, while Bezuidenhout even made a single appearance for the Sharks Currie Cup team as a raw youngster some years back. Marx is a centre who has been with the Pumas for some years already, having joined them shortly after leaving the junior ranks.

We all know about the Griqua-Sharks, of course, with Justin Downey at open-side flank and Shannon Rick at scrumhalf flying the flag for Durban in the peacock blue jersey this week. Moving down to Johannesburg, though, there are few more former Sharks playing for the Lions. Pat Cilliers, whom we know well, starts at loosehead prop this week, with big lock Joe Snyman named on the bench. Further Sharks stalwarts in the form of Warren Whiteley, Mike Rhodes and Waylon Murray will also come back into their team during the course of the season.

By my reckoning, that gives a number somewhere just north of 22 players (once the Sharks side proper is taken into account) playing in this week’s opening round that have come up through the Sharks Academy – or to put it another way, slightly more than one in eight. Not a bad result for the Academy, considering that close to ten members of the extended Bok squad are graduates too.



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