I thought it a pretty astute, if slightly greedy, move by
the Sharks to sign Cheetahs and Bok tighthead prop Lourens Adriaanse last year.
Jannie du Plessis has been hopelessly over-played in recent years, so it makes
sense to have back up for the Bok stalwart. But it is not as if Wiehahn Herbst
had a bad season last year … He had been called up to a Bok camp after all.
So to then go and sign Saracens and England prop, Matt
Stevens, just smacks of gluttony!
Especially given that they also have a prop who reportedly
weighs in at 130kg’s and is over 1.9m tall on their books. Thomas du Toit is from
Paarl Boys High and is only 18 years old, but is already part of the Sharks
Super Rugby squad …
“He comes from a great school, a great prop factory and he’s
a really big unit. Sometimes you are lucky enough to catch one of these
youngsters who just have the whole package” enthused director of rugby, Jake
White, when talking to Sharks
World about the youngster earlier in the week.
Throw in Beast Mtawarira and Dale Chadwick, and that is prop
stock that puts a good few international sides to shame! And while very aware
of the tightrope I walk when discussing the merits of men known to hover a little
longer than most around a buffet, of course I jest re the gluttony!
“It’s no secret that Jannie is getting on now and that Beast
is just a year or two behind him. We need to make sure that we’re developing
the next tier of guys and Matt is the kind of player that allows you to blood
youngsters around him and can help guide them through. The fact that he can
easily play on either side of the scrum just gives us options; we can use him
at 3 while we blood a young loosehead, or the other way around,” said White of
the Stevens signing.
It probably would not have been “allowed” to happen if
player contracting was done centrally, but it is yet another clever move from
the men in Durban. I am not sure how long the honeymoon will last, but as it
stands, the White and John Smit “marriage” is working like a charm.
Off the field as well, it would seem … I actually cannot
remember when last I saw Kings Park as full as it was for Saturday’s Super
Rugby game against the Bulls.
And while it was by no means a “cracker”, to score 4 tries
in the Durban February humidity takes some doing. Look, the Bulls have some
serious issues to address - Francois Hougaard looks angry and unhappy with the
world, and it just cannot be right for one of your bench, no matter what he has
achieved in a previous life, to have a walkie talkie in his hand - but to
cruise past them while not really getting out of second gear is impressive.
And while the Bulls are being eaten alive for a “boring”
kick-and-chase game, the Sharks only had one less kick out of hand than the
Bulls (29 to 30 according to the new Vodacom Rugby Stats App). But it was the
effectiveness of said kicks, and where they came from, that counted. While the
Bulls tended to kick from 9 and 10 only, 5 of the Sharks kicks came from 12 and
13. Meaning they committed a few more defenders to the line (in case the
centres took the ball up), leaving them more space to kick into. It is
something the All Blacks do very well.
New CEO, new sponsors, new head coach, new signings, new
energy, new thinking … It is fantastic for South African rugby. But please just
be a little humble this time round Sharks fans!
Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt …
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