Sharks sign Springbok Sevens veteran Werner Kok
Now that the Sharks have signed Springbok Sevens veteran Werner Kok‚ they have unveiled one new player every day for the last nine days.
It's an impressive set of player who'll be filling starting and squad vacancies as the Sharks were well stocked in some departments and thin in others.
With Super Rugby starting on January 31 and ending on June 20‚ that's nearly six months of non-stop rugby.
Depth in strength will be critical for the Sharks and this is how their signings weigh up:
Loose-forwards: James Venter‚ Sikhumbuzo Notshe‚ Henco Venter
Incumbents: Phendulani Buthelezi‚ Luke Stringer‚ Lubabalo “Tera” Mtembu‚ Celimpilo Gumede‚ Tyler Paul‚ Kwanda Dimaza‚ Wian Vosloo
Reason: With the Du Preez twins Jean-luc and Daniel gone‚ while Philip van der Walt and Jacques Vermeulen also seeking greener European pastures‚ it's open gates at loose-forward for the Sharks.
It's a four for three replacement but whether the new purchases will have the same effect as the departed players will remain to be seen. Depth though is something the Sharks have at loose-forward.
Outside backs: Madosh Tambwe‚ Werner Kok
Incumbents: Makazole Mapimpi‚ Aphelele Fassi‚ Lwazi Mvovo‚ S'busiso Nkosi‚ Kobus van Wyk
Reason: There's two Springbok starters in Mapimpi and Nkosi‚ so rotation here will be necessary to ensure those two are kept fresh.
Kok and Tambwe bring different qualities that will come into use in a long season. Fassi's the only genuine fullback in this group‚ meaning the competition at wing is going to be thick‚ even when the Boks are rested.
Flyhalf: Jordan Chait
Incumbents: Curwin Bosch‚ Henry Chamberlain
Reason: With Robert du Preez gone‚ Curwin Bosch will finally get a season-long opportunity to stake a flyhalf claim.
That'll leave junior achievers Chamberlain and Chait to battle it out for the understudy position. They're both talented enough‚ but they'll do some serious bench time unless Bosch is injured.
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Front rowers: Michael Kumbirai‚ Retshegofaditswe “Ox” Nche
Incumbents: Juan Schoeman‚ Thomas du Toit‚ John-Hubert Meyer‚ Khuthazani Mchunu‚ Mzamo Majola‚ Tendai Mtawarira
Reason: A big hole has been left by Coenie Oosthuizen and the above players will need to fill that hole from a tighthead perspective.
There also needs to be the easing in of the loose-head prop with Mtawarira slowly starting to draw a curtain on his illustrious career. There's depth here‚ but whether it's the kind of quality the Sharks require will be seen.
Lock: Jordan Sesink-Clee
Incumbents: Gideon Koegelenberg‚ Hyron Andrews‚ JJ van der Mescht. Tyler Paul
Reason: Quality locks are already in short supply as franchises hang on to their number four and fives.
With Ruan Botha gone‚ the Sharks decided to trawl in the Varsity Cup and with Sesink-Clee‚ they have a reasonable replacement. They still need more bulk and grunt in this position