Durban - Since making his Super Rugby debut for the Cell C Sharks in 2006, Keegan Daniel
has proved to be an outstanding servant for the team, and on Friday night will celebrate 100 caps for the team, reports Sharks website
editor Michael Marnewick
Having played in 103 Currie Cup games as well, including captaining the side to victory in last year’s final against Western Province, his accumulation of over 200 caps for the union is a rare achievement.
“It’s a nice personal milestone for me,” he admits of playing in his 100th game. “Thinking back to when I started, it was one of the goals I set myself if I was blessed enough to play that long and if I managed to stay injury free. It was looking a bit unlikely at the beginning of the year with the injuries I had and the way things were going. Personally, it’s a massive milestone for me. But I’ve always said this, the team always comes first.
“But yes, it’s a tick of the box, a goal I set myself a long time ago."
Director of Rugby, Jake White
, added: “It’s great for Keegan, it’s his 100th game, a fantastic milestone. The 100-capped player must add value, and I said the same with JP
(Pietersen) and Odwa (Ndungane). It’s the same with 90-odd games for Jannie (du Plessis) and Beast
(Mtawarira), it has to count when you have that amount of experience. For Keegan’s sake, I’m glad for him, he’s been a great servant for the Sharks.”
Discussing the team’s prospects and aims, Daniel gave some insights into the Sharks' plans for the season.
“Every team sets out at the beginning of each season to win the competition, I think it’s every team’s goal. It certainly is ours. We have had a really good start, we are still trying to find our feet in the way Jake White
wants us to play in terms of certain structures. We have suffered a few injuries in key areas, but the guys who have stepped in have put their hands up. We’re looking good. We’ve won ugly when we’ve had to when things didn’t go our way and I think that’s the sign of a good team. This past weekend is a prime example of that.”
Friday night’s game (19:10pm kick-off) sees the Highlanders visiting Kings Park, an important game for both sides with the expectation of a huge battle.
“The strength of any New Zealand team is to play open rugby, if you kick poorly to them, they have the kind of players who can carve you up from anywhere,” said Daniel.
“If our lines aren’t right or we kick poorly or turn ball over, that’s when they’re going to be the most dangerous. We will definitely need to tidy up the amount of turnover ball and the kind of errors we committed against the Cheetahs in that first half.”
With this being his final tour with the Sharks, he believes that there will be something extra special about it. As it is for every other game.
“Leaving for Japan makes every game extra special for me with the start to the season I had, the injuries, some uncertainty. So every time I get the opportunity to wear the jersey again is going to be special. I’ll be away for 21 months, but who knows what the future holds? If I get the opportunity to come back later on, that would be awesome.
“I have cherished every game I have every played for the union. Touring - if I am selected - will be extra special, and there are a couple of guys who might be on their last tours as well, so we’ll enjoy it as much as we can.” Teams:Sharks:
15. Lwazi Mvovo
, 14. JP Pietersen
, 13. Paul Jordaan
, 12. Frans Steyn
, 11. S’bura Sithole, 10. Tim Swiel, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel
, 7. Jean Deysel
, 6. Marcell Coetzee
, 5. Stephan Lewies
, 4. Willem Alberts
, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper
, 17. Dale Chadwick
, 18. Lourens Adriaanse
, 19. Etienne Oosthuizen, 20. Ryan Kankowski
, 21. Stefan Ungerer
, 22. Heimar Williams
, 23. SP MaraisHighlanders:
15. Ben Smith (co-captain), 14. Richard Buckman, 13. Malakai Fekitoa, 12. Shaun Treeby, 11. Patrick Osborne, 10. Lima Sopoaga, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7. Shane Christie, 6. Elliot Dixon, 5. Joe Wheeler, 4. Jarrad Hoeata, 3. Chris King, 2. Liam Coltman, 1. Kane Hames
Substitutes: 16. Ged Robinson, 17. Craig Millar, 18. Ma’afu Fia, 19. Josh Bekhuis, 20. Gareth Evans, 21. Fumiaki Tanaka, 22. Trent Renata, 23. John Hardie