Friday, July 07, 2006

Sharks vs Pumas

Howzit all - been a while.

There's been a lot of talk about the Sharks "B-team" that's been picked for tonight's game. I'd like to post a brief rundown on the players, based on what I know of them, hopefully to allay any fears that there might be about the strength of this team.

1) Kees Lensing. Enough said, I think. Everyone knows Kees, the former Bulls and Namibian hardman. A very good scrummager, but a lot less effective in the loose than Mxoli or Carstens. Expect him to do a 50-minute demolition job, before Mox comes on to clean up.
2) Skipper Badenhorst. The weakest of the hookers in the squad in terms of all round game, but probably the second best scrummager after Smit. Lineout throwing is the major concern. Has been known to play well in the loose, but isn't consistent enough (vs Bulls in last 2004 Super 12 he was a king!). Probably in the starting lineup due to questions around Jenneker's temperament.
3) Danie Saayman. Currently about the only fit tighthead in either Sharks team. Danie is a very dependable, hard-working player and a brilliant scrummager. He also scores match-winning tries.
4) Wouter Moore. Alas, I don't know much about this guy. Another youngster we borrowed from Orakel-country. Apparently played SA u19 and u21, so should definitely have the pedigree
5) Steven Sykes. I have my doubts about this kid. A reasonable lineout option and a grafter in the tight, but seems to lack the hard edge that we need in the pack. Let's hope he proves me wrong.
6) Keegan Daniel. SA u21 star and impact player of note, Keegs gets a chance to resume the dynamite combination with Kankowsi from last year's Natal u21 team. This guys has such good anticipation, coupled with great hands and heaps of pace. Expect him to run riot tonight.
7) Jaco Gouws. The elder statesman in this young back row. Gouws is more a journeyman than a matchwinner, but his high work rate, good defence and leadership skills bring a lot to the team.
8) Ryan Kankowsi. Another exciting young backrower - big, strong and fast. Ryan is a regular SA 7s representative. I expect him and Keegan to hunt as a pack, Kankowsi feeding off loose ball that Daniel secures. A great prospect.
9) Sandile Nxumalo. Sandy has the best pass of any of the Sharks scrummies, but his form has been inconsistent of late. Desperately in need of gametime, let's hope he shows what he can do by focusing on his strengths and doing the basics well.
10) Steve Meyer. Incredibly, this chap has yet to represent the Sharks at senior level. A workmanlike player with a great boot. He is a devastating tackler and controls a game very well.
11) Craig Burden. Big strong chap who got limited gametime in the Super 14, but looked pretty good. Uses his strength well to break tackles.
12) Andries Strauss. Yet another poached Cheetahs youngster, Straussie is a very relaxed, confident player. Strong on defence and stands up well in the tackle, never losing possession. Lacking a bit of pace, but expect him to give this backline direction.
13) Okkie Vermeulen. Ok, another Free Stater. Sorry guys! Okkie runs straight and hard and is an exciting talent. Saw him play against the self-same Pumas in the Vodacom Cup and he was dynamite. My bet for a hat-trick.
14) Dusty Noble. Impressed against WP with his high workrate and good anticipation. Lacking a bit in the top-end stakes, but expect him to have a busy evening. Pretty good defender.
15) Brett Hennessey. Vampire-boy is safe under the high ball and very very quick, but his decision-making worries me. Still, the only fit fullback in the squad (thanks Snake). Let's see how he goes tonight.

Some good backup on the bench as well, in Mox Mxoli, Jodi Jenneker and Nikolai Blignaut... these guys are the new, black generation of Sharks forwards and have us all very excited. Jenneker is another Lukas van Biljon, but hopefully he can be kept on the rails. Blignaut is an enforcer and Mox is just a downright phenomenon. A young Ollie if you must compare him to someone. I have no idea who Conrad Stoltz is.

In the backs. Mathie and Bobo are well-known, although both need to find a period of sustained form. Scott was poor last week and will hope to deliver an improved showing. Bobo was better than he has been in some time and will want to build on that. Stick hasn't played for the 15s side in a while, but he is full of running. Another SA 7s man.

All-in-all, a well-balanced team. Front row is hard as rock, second row a bit of an unknown. Back row full of running. Workmanlike halfback combination, but good distributors both. Strauss as the general, responsible for unleashing the deadly back 4.

I can't wait!

Hi RobD

Thanks for Posting- and welcome back!

Good read

I believe - that the depth in your squad and the value added by Campo- may- MAY be the difference between the Sharks and the Cheetahs this year.

But hey- lets get past this weekend first
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