DURBAN – The positives outweigh the negatives for a depleted Sharks team that was mauled 49-28 by the Bulls at the weekend, and one of them was the dazzling display by their three young scrumhalves.
Sanele Nohamba was the pick of the Sharks players in the first half when the Bulls were rampant, and in the second – when the visitors fought back strongly to score four tries – Jaden Hendrikse and Grant Williams starred.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt agrees his cup is overflowing with talented halfbacks.
“We are blessed at the Sharks to probably have three of the best junior scrumhalves in world rugby,” Everitt said. “Sanele did really well in Super Rugby when he got the opportunity; Jaden unfortunately did not get that much exposure this year because the world junior competition was cancelled, and prior to that he was away in Stellenbosch at the SA Under-20 camp.
“But last year he was the SA Under-20 Player of the Year, so we know what he is about.
“And I am really excited about a young guy in Grant Williams who has been in our system for some time now, but has not played too much because of an unfortunate run of injuries over the last 18 months.
“I thought he was really good today. At No 9, he scored a really good try just before halftime, which showed just a glimpse of what he can do with the pace that he has – he is as quick as Makazole Mapimpi – and then in the second half we played him on the wing and his pace and energetic display showed that he is a guy that can play at the highest level.”
Those three were just some of a host of youngsters that Everitt took to Loftus, with a number of them getting an opportunity because of injuries to established players in Sbu Nkosi, Aphelele Fassi, James Venter, Henco Venter, Madosh Tambwe, Kerron van Vuuren and Boeta Chamberlain.
“We went into this game with an enlarged group, with a lot of youngsters, and in the second half they displayed their talent when I felt we played exceptionally well,” Everitt said. “We put the Bulls under pressure with the type of rugby that we want to play.
“But in that first half we made a lot of mistakes. We are a team that plays to create turnovers, and that is why we kick contestables but unfortunately we did not gather three of them, which cost us three tries. Then we dropped the ball on our tryline and the Bulls ran 100m to score – suddenly you are 35-0 down, and that is hard to come back from.”
Good news on the injury front is that it seems only Fassi and Van Vuuren will be unavailable for the Sharks’ opening Super Rugby Unlocked match against the Lions next Saturday.
“James Venter didn’t play against the Bulls because he got a knock on the head during training. It wasn’t too bad but we did not want to risk him in this game that was mostly about us looking at our depth and gaining match practice. Henco had a mild thigh strain and will be back in training this week; and Madosh and Boeta will also be training this week and available for the Lions game,” Everitt said.