Sharks name new skipper, Super Rugby squad
Durban - Sharks coach Robert du Preez on Thursday named a 45-man Super Rugby squad, with lock Ruan Botha named captain for the season.
The squad consists of 25 forwards and 20 backs, with 12 of the players named capped at Springbok level.
There are also a host of players that have represented the Junior Boks or featured in SA ‘A’ matches.
Amongst the new faces in the team are new signings: Robert du Preez Jnr, Makazole Mapimpi and Leolin Zas.
Joining them for the first time in the Sharks' Super Rugby squad is Akker van der Merwe, Louis Schreuder, Tyler Paul and Ross Geldenhuys, while a further five - Courtney Winnaar, Gideon Koegelenberg, Grant Williams, Kerron van Vuuren and Khuta Mchunu - are uncapped at Super Rugby level.
Commenting on the squad selected, Du Preez said: “We are excited about the depth we have in the squad as well as the current mix of players we have. There is going to be healthy competition for positions and a strong group dynamic has been built.
“The youngsters have done really well and have brought positive energy to our sessions and have been a big part of our pre-season success. Many of the players named made their debuts just last year and showed massive potential.
“Going into 2018 it is important that they continue to look for improvement and it is our job to ensure that the energy and enthusiasm they bring, is channelled in the right direction, and is for the greater good of the team.”
"There is a good team culture that started to develop last year, which shone through in the progress we made, as a team. This year everyone associated with the team remains committed to building on from where we left off in 2017."
Regarding his decision to make Botha captain, Du Preez said:
“Ruan was handed the captaincy armband for last year’s Currie Cup campaign and led from the front with strong performances and showed growth as a leader, as the competition progressed.
“I’ve been impressed with his maturity and hunger to improve not only his game, but to take forward the team’s ambitions as well.”
The Sharks play two warm-up matches prior to the start of their Super Rugby campaign, which commences against the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday, February 17.
The first warm-up match is against the Bulls in Polokwane followed by a trip to Hong Kong to play Racing 92.
Akker van der Merwe, Coenie Oosthuizen, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Daniel du Preez, Franco Marais, Gideon Koegelenberg, Hyron Andrews, Jacques Vermeulen, Jean Droste, Jean-Luc du Preez, John-Hubert Meyer, Juan Schoeman, Keegan Daniel, Kerron van Vuuren, Khuta Mchunu, Lubabalo 'Tera' Mtembu, Mzamo Majola, Philip van der Walt, Ross Geldenhuys, Ruan Botha (captain), Stephan Lewies, Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira, Thomas du Toit, Tyler Paul, Wian Vosloo
Andre Esterhuizen, Cameron Wright, Courtney Winnaar, Curwin Bosch, Garth April, Grant Williams, Jeremy Ward, Johan Deysel, Kobus van Wyk, Leolin Zas, Louis Schreuder, Lukhanyo Am, Lwazi Mvovo, Makazole Mapimpi, Marius Louw, Michael Claassens, Rhyno Smith, Robert du Preez, S'busiso Nkosi, Tristan Blewett