Daniel’s destiny

If Dick Muir’s dual squad system taught him anything it’s that Keegan Daniel will be his trump card in years to come.

Daniel has largely been used as an impact player in the Absa Currie Cup, but his bit-part performances have received both media and public acclaim.

Despite the favourable press, the 21-year-old flanker opts for the pragmatic approach and said that he’ll continue to improve with increased game time.

“I don’t think my form in the first round of the competition has been that great,” he told keo.co.za, refusing to get drawn in by the hype. “It didn’t get off to a great start with me missing the [Western] Province game with a concussion and then I sort of done okay after that.

“I’ve got a lot to offer the Sharks and I think people have only seen a small part of what I’m capable of.

“I’ll get a lot better as I gain more experience,” he added.

Muir’s dual squad system created opportunities for his younger players to gain that experience in a senior provincial competition, and the innovative tactic has seen the likes of Ryan Kankowski, Cedric Mkhize and Daniel emerge as worthy challengers to the first-choice players.

It has also given him a better picture of what his squad will look like for the 2007 Vodacom Super 14.

The Sharks though have a plethora of quality loose forwards, and Daniel is well aware that patience will have to be a virtue he embraces before he sees his name penned into the starting line-up.

“There are definitely some quality loose forwards here,” he says. “And with Solly [Tyibilika] back [for the Super 14] that quality will improve even more.

“My attitude has been to learn as much as I possibly can from AJ [Venter], Warren [Britz] and Jacques [Botes]. They’ve got so much to offer a young player like me,” he said.

“The fact that we have that many good players competing for three places means that it keeps everybody on their toes,” he adds. “It makes you perform well when you have other guys breathing down your neck, and that’s the role I see myself playing for the next two seasons or so.

“AJ, and Warren are coming to the end of their careers but that doesn’t mean I’ll sit back until that happens.”

The former U21 star’s weight continues to be an area of concern for those fixated with producing behemoth-like loose forwards. At 89kg he gives up between 10 and 15kg to the average No 6,7 and 8.

“A lot of people see this as a weakness in my game,” he said. “But I don’t see it that way. Obviously I’ve been working hard with Mark Steele [strength coach] and my goal weight is 95kg.

“At the same time I don’t want to compromise my strengths by becoming too heavy. I like to think of myself as quick around the field and a good reader of the game. This allows me to link with the backs effectively.

“But I can’t keep worrying about my weight and forget to play rugby.”

A yellow card in the game against the Vodacom Cheetahs was the culmination of a number of on-the-edge performances leading into that match. But he believes this is not something that will define his career.

“I was over eager and I wanted to stamp my authority on the game in the wrong way,” he said. “I’ll learn from that and am determined to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

He speaks with passion about his goals for the second round of the Currie Cup and plans to make a significant contribution in one way or another.

“I want to be part of a successful Sharks team that wins the trophy. It’s going to be difficult to get a start, but for now I’ll continue to try and make as big an impact as I can when I do come on.”

By Ryan Vrede