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The completely unofficial Sharksworld tour group prediction (patent pending)

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 23 Apr 2014 at 09:15
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Cell C Sharks have told us that they’ll announce their preliminary tour squad at noon tomorrow; that’s the group of 27 names that coach Jake White would ideally like to take on tour with him, but could obviously be revised should there be any injuries during Friday night’s game against the Highlanders.

I thought it might be fun – and perhaps even a little instructive – to try to predict the composition of the tour group ahead of time. It’s going to be difficult to get right for two reasons, the first being that there are a lot of players under an injury cloud who will hopefully be fit to tour, but over whose availability there is little certainty at present. The second reason is that with a large squad of players, White and his fellow coaches are going to have to make some tough choices, particularly among the loose forwards and inside backs.

Let’s start with the absolute tour certainties – here are the players that are both fit and assured of selection to the group of 27.

Beast Mtawarira, Dale Chadwick, Bismarck du Plessis, Kyle Cooper, Jannie du Plessis, Lourens Adriaanse, Willem Alberts, Stephan Lewies, Etienne Oosthuizen, Marcell Coetzee, Jean Deysel, Keegan Daniel, Ryan Kankowski, Charl McLeod, Frans Steyn, S’bura Sithole, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, SP Marais

That’s 19 players, 13 forwards and 6 backs. I’ve included Oosthuizen because he’s one of only two specialist locks currently in the match day squad and as such must surely be down to tour. Likewise, it’s very hard to see Keegan Daniel going from being in the starting lineup one week to missing out on a tour spot the next. That leaves 8 places to fill.

It’s probably easier to fill in the forward “blanks”. Another hooker and another prop will have to go, simply because a late injury will prevent a full complement from being available for match day otherwise. Monde Hadebe is thus a certainty, while Thomas du Toit is probably more likely to get the fifth prop spot than Wiehahn Herbst is. My feeling is that White will want to take one spare utility forward as well. I don’t think Jacques Botes is in the picture, meaning a toss up between Peet Marais and Tera Mtembu for the final spot. I feel White would pick Mtembu if he were fit, but since his hammy is touch and go (and we arguably need locks more than we need loose forwards) the smart money should be on Marais getting the seat.

That leaves us with 5 spots to fill in the backline (and plenty of choices). Cobus Reinach and JP Pietersen will face late fitness tests and will both be included if they make it. Likewise, it’s a pretty safe bet that Fred Zeilinga will get a spot if fit, with his ability to stand in as third scrumhalf in a real crisis making him extra useful. That leaves just two places and a lot of names clamouring for inclusion, with Tim Swiel, Paul Jordaan, Heimar Williams and Jaco van Tonder the contenders.

Given the concerns around both Zeilinga and Steyn, it’s inconceivable that Swiel would not tour, likewise Paul Jordaan is the man who seems a shoe-in for the last spot, meaning the unlucky Williams and van Tonder will probably not be on the plane.

There is so much doubt, though, given the current (and future) injury situation that it would take a brave man indeed to bet against anyone mentioned above getting to spend at least some time with the tour group over the course of the next month.

Here’s my group of 27, then. Let’s see how close I get.

Beast Mtawarira, Dale Chadwick, Thomas du Toit, Bismarck du Plessis, Kyle Cooper, Monde Hadebe, Jannie du Plessis, Lourens Adriaanse, Willem Alberts, Stephan Lewies, Etienne Oosthuizen, Peet Marais, Marcell Coetzee, Jean Deysel, Keegan Daniel, Ryan Kankowski, Charl McLeod, Cobus Reinach, Fred Zeilinga, Tim Swiel, Frans Steyn, Paul Jordaan, S’bura Sithole, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, SP Marais


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