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Junior player exodus continues

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 1 Nov 2011 at 11:22
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

With the Varsity Cup continuing to prove a powerful draw card to Sharks Academy graduates on the fringes of senior selection in Durban, the haemorrhage of young talent from the province looks set to increase ahead of the 2012 season.

It has long been feared that the lack of a Durban-based Varity Cup team would drive young players to seek their fortunes elsewhere and with the Sharks developing an unwanted reputation for overlooking their own juniors in favour of pricey imports, it’s not surprising to see a slew of young talent leaving the region ahead of next year. This situation was exacerbated earlier this year when the successful Zululand Rugby Academy, which has provided many good players into the Sharks junior ranks over the last few years, opted to relocate to the Border region to join forces with the Southern Kings franchise – taking promising players such as Dwayne Jenner and Ryno Olivier along with them.

We have already reported that the Cronje twins are set to join up with the Lions, with Guy in particular likely to play Varsity Cup rugby for UJ. Another young flyhalf, Willie du Plessis, left earlier in the year to join Tukkies and even played for the Bulls under 21 side against his old team in Saturday’s final. Tukkies mentor Heynecke Meyer started recruiting from the Sharks Academy last year already, with flyhalf Wes Dunlop, centre Arno van Zyl and forward Nqubeko Zulu and Luvo Lusaseni all representing the whites in the 2011 Varsity Cup. New names heading down to Pretoria ahead of 2012 include Vodacom Cup players in Jerome Pretorius (centre), Wynand Pienaar (fullback), Lee Thompson (flank) and Sabelo Nhlapo (prop), while Sharks under 21 lock Mike Williams will also make Tukkies and the Blue Bulls his home in the new year.

The NMMU Madibaz are also on a strong recruitment drive, with a number of fringe players from the Durban club ranks on their way down to the Bay for 2012. Names to mention here include last year’s under 21 centre Howard Mnisi, along with the Rovers pair of Anton Verster (scrumhalf) and Roy Godfrey (prop). Dev Lailveaux, Quinton Crocker and promising former under 21 opensider Jaco Otto are also understood to be on their way to NMMU. Additionally, under 21 flyhalf Drew Norton has moved down to the Cape to study at UCT, where he will be available for the Ikey Tigers Varsity Cup team.

We’ve also been told that Ukranian lock Karolis Navickas has left Durban to join up with the Bath Academy in the UK.

The Sharks Academy, in short, is doing a wonderful job in preparing young schoolboys for successful professional rugby careers. It would be great, though, if more of those careers could be in the black and white of the Sharks, rather than elsewhere in South Africa.


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