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Strong under 21 side for opener


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 10 Jul 2015 at 08:33
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

New Sharks under 21 coach Michael Horak has named his side for the competition opener against Western Province at City Park tomorrow afternoon. Hooker Chris de Beer, who captained the Sharks under 19 side two years ago, leads a team that appears – on paper at least – to have a chance of upstaging their more-fancied rivals.

Barend Potgieter, a former flank whose conversion to loosehead prop last year proved stunningly successful, continues in that position, with former Grey Kollege lad Ruan Kramer at number 3. Junior Springbok Hyron Andrews finds himself in the somewhat unusual number 4 jersey, with Jean Droste, another young lock fed up with the Bulls age-group system joining him in the second row.

Open side flank Graham Geldenhuys will know the opposition well, having played for Western Province at under 19 level last year (and also for Rondebosch Boys High), while there is a big surprise lurking at blindside flank in the form of Johan du Toit. Pieter-Steph’s younger brother has opted to remain a Shark and while he operated successfully as a 4-lock during the Varsity Shield, some feel it’s on the side of the scrum that he might prove a class act. Kearsney’s Ayron Schramm, who shared the under 19 captaincy with Kramer last year, starts at number 8.

Rowan Gouws – another player to make great strides for UKZN this year – is at scrumhalf, with Zimbabwean international Riaan O’Neill at pivot (while Inny-Christian Radebe is still injured). Much is expected of the home-grown centre combination; Kearsney’s Sandile Kubeka and Glenwood’s Legend Marwana have played together in Natal colours since 2011, when both were selected for the Craven Week squad in their Grade 11 year. Kubeka’s pedigree actually goes back even further; along with de Beer, he represented KZN at the u16 Grant Khomo Week back in 2010.

Nkululeko Mcuma and try machine Marcel-with-one-l Coetzee are the wings, with Kelvin Elder at fullback. Interestingly, every one of the backs outside of the flyhalf attnded school in KZN, making this our most “local” under 21 backline in some years.

A nasty surprise (if you’re a Province fan) is the inclusion of Super Rugby players Thomas du Toit and Daniel du Preez on the bench. Both are expected to feature in the upcoming Currie Cup season, but will use this opportunity to enjoy some game time with their age-group compatriots. Horak has opted to include two props on the bench (the other being junior Bok Mzamo Majola) – a sure indication that he plans to give du Toit a decent run at tighthead in the second half. Andy du Plessis covers hooker, while Retief Marais (younger brother of Peet and Jandre) joins du Preez as utility forward cover. With three players in the mix able to cover both lock and flank, it will be interesting to see exactly what combination the coaches settle on later in the game.

Only two backs are on the bench, in scrumhalf Lotter Pretorius and outside back Sipho Mkhize. Both return from last year’s under 21 squad.

Sharks under 21:
15 Kelvin Elder, 14 Nkululeko Mcuma, 13 Nkululeko Marwana, 12 Sandile Kubeka, 11 Marcel Coetzee, 10 Riaan O’Neill, 9 Rowan Gouws, 8 Ayron Schramm, 7 Johan du Toit, 6 Graham Geldenhuys, 5 Jean Droste, 4 Hyron Andrews, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 Chris de Beer, 1 Barend Potgieter.
Replacements: 16 Andrew du Plessis, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Daniel du Preez, 20 Retief Marais, 21 Lotter Pretorius, 22 Sipho Mkhize



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