New men must step up for the Sharks

New men must step up for the Sharks
Sharks coach Sean Everitt has called on a number of his forwards to step up and fill the breach created by an exodus of senior players after the 2019 Super Rugby campaign.

The Sharks lost leaders like Ruan Botha, Philip van der Walt, the Du Preez twins, Coenie Oosthuizen, Akker van der Merwe and Jacques Vermeulen to overseas clubs.

“I have had a conversation with the players about stepping up this year,” Everitt said at a press conference at Jonsson Kings Park yesterday.

“There are a few guys that have a number of Super Rugby caps under their belts and we now expect them to fill the void of the older guys that have left.”

Everitt highlighted young but reasonably experienced players such as prop Thomas du Toit, and locks Hyron Andrews and Ruben van Heerden.

“Ruben had a full Super Rugby campaign last year and Thomas has been around for a while now - he played his first games for the Sharks as a 19-year-old straight out of school and he is now 24,” the coach pointed out.

“Hyron is also a guy that we will look to as he goes into his second full year of Super Rugby after having played a few games in 2018. All those guys have experience and we expect them to step up now,”

Everitt has included Du Toit in the five-man leadership support team he has formed to assist new captain Lukhanyo Am.

“In the past, the Sharks have been spoken about as a team with a lack of experience, so we felt there was a need to grow the leadership group in the squad,” Everitt explained.

“It is very difficult for Lukhanyo to oversee absolutely everything on and off the field, so we are giving him assistance.

“We have brought in five leaders to help the captain and each has responsibilities that are very important if we want to be a player-driven organisation,” Everitt continued.

“Thomas comes in to look after the set-piece; Louis Schreuder, the game management and organisation; Andre Esterhuizen, the defence; and Curwin Bosch will look after the attack as he is the general on the day.”

Everitt, meanwhile, disclosed that Am received a resounding ovation from his teammates when he was named captain

“The players cheered the roof off when Lukhanyo was announced,” Everitt said.

“He is a very popular choice indeed.

“Lukhanyo and I go back a long way to his first days at the Sharks when we promptly loaned him to the Kings to get some Super Rugby experience and he came back and slotted in and has grown each season to the point that he was an automatic choice for me ... a quiet guy that is popular among his mates,” Everitt said.

“He is not a loud, outspoken leader but in his own quiet way he gets people to follow him, so we have given him the captaincy reins and it was certainly well received among the players,” Everitt added.

Mike Greenaway 

The Mercury