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Sharks Super Rugby 2014: The loose forwards

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 20 Jan 2014 at 11:50
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , ,

There can be few areas where the Sharks are quite as blessed – and some might even say overstocked – than the back row. Let’s have a look at how this crucial contingent might pan out for Jake White in Super Rugby 2014.

White has already wielded the axe to an extent, with some very good players, who have shown their worth at Currie Cup level, understood to be out of the Super Rugby reckoning at present. Justin Downey and Fracnois Kleinhans – along with a host of younger players – have already been released to the Vodacom Cup squad, while Brynard Stander, as we know, has opted to seek his fortune in Perth. When looking at what’s left, though, White must feel a little bit like he’s playing roulette over at Casino Midas, but with one big difference; so long as he bets on black, he’s sure to come up a winner every time.

Don’t expect the new coach to stray too far from the go-to men in the back row on whom former coach John Plumtree built his foundation. The likes of Willem Alberts and Marcell Coetzee are likely to remain first-choice options at flank, but in naming Jean Deysel as a vice captain, White had made it clear that the burly Virginia strongman is likely to play a crucial role too, although possibly in rotation with Alberts in the notoriously injury-prone blindside position. White’s penchant for big men in the number 6 shirt (and, in fact, every other shirt) should see Coetzee installed as a fixture on the open side.

Where White is likely to change the script, though, is at the back of the scrum. Ryan Kankowski looks set to again become the undisputed first pick at number 8, while it sounds as though Tera Mtembu‘s prodigious skills are to be recognised under this new administration as well. With the young Dalian alternating with Kankowski in the number 8 jersey, the only real question now revolves around two Plumtree stalwarts, Keegan Daniel and Jacques Botes. The latter, who we understand may transition into an off-field role in the not-too-distant future, will always prove a dependable option at 6 and will likely be the man to deputise for Coetzee.

For former captain Daniel, though, things are less clear-cut and it’s possible that his game-breaking abilities and versatility may see him used in the sort of super-sub role that made him famous as a young man. While it’s perhaps too early to read too much into White’s thinking, it does remain unlikely, however, that Daniel would be assured of a starting position in a full-strength Sharks line-up.


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