Currie Cup

Venter has his backs covered

2013-08-06 21:30
Brendan Venter (Gallo Images)
Durban -  Sharks director of rugby, Brendan Venter, says that the team has adequate cover at the back following the departures of JP Pietersen and Riaan Viljoen.

According to the Sharks' official website, two names cropped up for all the right reasons at the Sharks media conference ahead of their Currie Cup opener against Griquas at Kings Park on Friday.

Odwa Ndungane came in for special praise after being shifted to fullback in their warm-up match against the KZN All Stars last Friday afternoon, a positional switch that looks permanent.

Venter explained that together with Jaco van Tonder (who has moved up the age group ranks) and SP Marais from the Kings, the Sharks are now well covered at fullback.

"SP Marais is a new recruit from the Kings, subject to release from them, we’re hoping soon as possible.

"I’ve spoken to Jaco van Tonder and Odwa Ndungane, Odwa has started at fullback really well, we’re really impressed with him, Jaco also understand, SP is coming in as a squad member, not to start as a fullback.

"When losing Riaan Viljoen and there is a good chance we’re losing Louis Ludik as well, losing both fullbacks, we needed to strengthen our squad at fullback.

"He’s a good addition because he can play a couple of positions, it’s a long term investment for SP to be at a top union like the Sharks, it’s a great step up for him as well.

“We had the players tested and Odwa was the third fastest player in our group, we were very impressed with his stats, his conditioning is fantastic and he’s a leader.

"We see him primarily as a fullback now.

"He will help to give our backline some zip as well.

"He’s experienced, he organises the backs, he kicks the ball out of hand beautifully so after losing Riaan, we’re very privileged to have Odwa who steps in there.

"He was brilliant against the Kings, and he has been at training too."

The Sharks also welcomed back Tim Whitehead who played in his first match since breaking his arm in a pre-season friendly.

"It was a bit of a relief to have Tim back on Friday evening, because we’re quite short in the centres and he brings a wealth of experience and after performing well last year, he’s excited about playing again and that opportunity he got on Friday would have given him a whole lot of confidence," explained backline coach Sean Everitt.
"He’s obviously been through some bad luck with that arm injury which went on longer than he had planned for, but he has been running with the team for quite a while and he has been doing skill work, so I don’t think there will be any problems at all.

"And on Friday night he did very well.”

Kick-off is at 19:10.


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