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Bothma signing adds huge value to Sharks

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 12 Nov 2014 at 12:06
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , ,

In adding another ball-carrying loose forward in Renaldo Bothma, the Sharks appear to have solved the vast majority of their forward concerns ahead of the 2015 Super Rugby season.

When we looked at the players available a while back, our conclusion was that while the front row stocks looked more than sufficient, there was a somewhat “green” look to some of the options further back in the pack. In particular, it was the loss of bruisers like Jean Deysel and Anton Bresler that caused the biggest concern. The youth system has offered up decent replacements in a lot of cases, but it’s perhaps a little naive to expect that any player, at 21 or 22, would be ready to step straight into that physical “wrecking ball” role at Super Rugby level.

What Bothma’s addition does is alleviate that concern; he provides a proper foil to the injury-prone Willem Alberts while decreasing the pressure on a young player like Johan Meyer to need to be a Super Rugby starter in his first season out of the juniors. Likewise, the incredibly talented but very young du Preez twins, Jean-Luc and Daniel, can now be introduced to senior rugby in a more measure way, rather than the deep-end plunge that may have been necessary without Bothma in the picture.

Perhaps more significant still, though, is the knock-on effect on the second row. Etienne Oosthuizen, who despite some decent performances at flank in the Currie Cup is really a 4-lock by trade, can now be freed up to concentrate on his best position and challenge for a starting spot in that jersey. With the former Brumby needing to do a job as back row cover as well, the Sharks would have been very thin in terms of options at 4. That problem now looks to be solved – or mostly solved.

There remains the slightly thorny issue of Pieter-Steph du Toit, who was in the process of turning into a 5-lock at the time of his horror injury. It’s in that lineout-general role that he’s (allegedly) most needed by Heyneke Meyer, but from a Sharks perspective, it would be far better if he concentrated on the other lock position. In Stephan Lewies and Marco Wentzel the Sharks are well covered at 5 – and a combination of du Toit and Lewies as starters makes the mouth water, since both are aggressive physical players who all the same have the athleticism and ball skills to succeed in the number 5 role as well.

With du Toit and Oosthuizen alternating at 4, the Sharks have two good options in either second row position, allowing Wiehan Hay and JC Astle to develop further at Vodacom Cup level. Should du Toit be used as a five, though, there’s suddenly a proper log jam on the left hand side of the scrum and a rather worrying void on the right.

In summary, I’m not really expecting any further forward signings ahead of Super Rugby, but if there is to be one, it would simply have to be an established 4-lock. With few options on the market, I find myself drawn to either of Steven Sykes or Pumas man Giant Mtayanda. Either would add some comfort, but neither, I would say, is a must-have at this stage.


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