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Brad’s Currie Cup challenge

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 24 Jul 2013 at 11:28
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , ,

As always, it’s amongst the forwards the the Sharks will be hardest hit when it comes to Springboks call-ups. Outgoing coach John Plumtree pretty much always managed to field a competitive line-up up front in his stint in charge of the Currie Cup team and the first and biggest challenge for new forward supremo, Brad Macleod-Henderson, will be to replicate that success.

The Sharks look set to lose roughly the same number of players to the Bok cause this year as they did in 2012, although the injuries to both Anton Bresler and Pieter-Steph du Toit, with the latter likely to yanked up to the Bok squad too once fit, further complicate matters for the new coach. It’s also fair to say that the Sharks have probably had fewer youngster come up through the ranks this year than before and have also seen their depth reduced through the defection of the likes of Jandre Marais, Nick Shonert and Julian Redelinghuys.

In other words, we’re certainly going to see first hand quite how good the new man is as a coach, since he’s going to need to mold a strong forward unit without the likes of Plumtree’s “go-to men” – the du Plessis brothers, Mtawaria, Alberts and the like.

The good news for Macleod-Henderson (that’s too long to type often!) is that Bresler should be back well before the campaign reaches its half-way mark and together with the likes of Wiehahn Herbst and Kyle Cooper, should form the mainstay in a pretty good pack. It’s only really tight forward depth – particularly at tighthead prop – that is of real concern ahead of the season.

Dale Chadwick and Danie Mienie will be the primary loosehead options, although if Allan Dell’s good form for the under 21s continues, he may well get a look in too. Mienie, who looks set to play more of a role under the new administration, could possibly also deputise at tighthead should Herbst need a break. Right now, the only other option at 3 is under 21 player Maks van Dyk and while it would be a gamble to blood him at this stage, perhaps one worth taking. Good options at tighthead seem thin on the ground and alas neither Schonert nor Redelinghuys would see any value in relinquishing starting positions at other franchises to play 3rd fiddle at the Sharks.

Hooker is, of course, well sorted with promising under 21 player Franco Marais only fourth in line to the jersey, with Cooper, Craig Burden and Monde Hadebe all in the running ahead of him. It’s at lock that there is plenty of uncertainty and change too, with Marco Wentzel and Edwin Hewitt – new players both – likely to steady the ship while Brelser recovers and Peet Marais is groomed as a line-out caller. One would like to think that Bresler and Marais would be the combination most likely to end the season as first choice, but you simply cannot underestimate the value that an old hand like Wentzel can add in a competition where most players will sorely lack for experience. Hewitt has also shown huge willing since coming into the squad and will be a valuable player as alternate to Bresler at 4. Marais – who like Mienie battled to get a look in under the old guard – is a player who could and should develop into a very good option in the middle of the lineout given the right mentoring and backing.

A further injury at lock, though, could certainly set the cat among the pigeons because the Sharks will concede that depth here is a problem; even the under 21s are very short of second row options. It would take a brave man to put any money behind Jean Deysel not making an appearance at lock at some point during the campaign.

Speaking of Deysel, it’s amongst the loose forwards that Brad (see what I did there?) will have a completely different sort of problem. Even without Alberts and Marcell Coetzee, the Sharks boast a Currie Cup back-row cupboard that is full to bursting and perhaps the biggest challenge facing the coach will be to ensure the development of the likes of Bry Stander, Francois Kleinhans and Tera Mtembu while still using his matchwinners – Deysel, Keegan Daniel and Jacques Botes – to maximum effect.


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