The Sharks have contracted Jean-Luc du Plessis, son of Springbok left wing Carel, as part of a drive to snap up SA’s best young talent.
In Mark Keohane’s article on John Plumtree, the Sharks coach revealed that having so many players away on international duty has allowed the men from Durban to develop talent at Currie Cup level, which he sees as a tournament that showcases of the next generation of star players in South Africa.
Plumtree said that he ‘does not differentiate between the need to win and develop quality players’ and that ‘it can’t be one at the expense of the other. The nature of the sport is you have to win but you can develop and win at the same time if your identification is right.’
The coach’s emphasis on player recruitment and development is backed up by an article on Schoolboy Rugby that reveals the Sharks latest and youngest signings.
The report suggests that the Sharks only contract between eight and 12 young players every year, with these players picked based both on their rugby ability and the future needs of the union.
The recruitment drive is geared towards identifying the best players, irrespective of where they reside or play their rugby. Contracted players automatically join the high performance elite training group at the Sharks Academy where they receive specialised training. Their contracts contain both performance and academic clauses, which means that in order to receive their full salary, players have to show commitment to both rugby and their studies.
The eight contracted players (with bio’s courtesy of Schoolboy Rugby)
Jean-Luc du Plessis (Paarl Boys High): The son of Springbok left wing Carel. A talented cricketer as well, Du Plessis plies his trade at flyhalf where he is known for his vision and attacking skills.
Neil Maritz (Paarl Boys High): Lightning quick outside centre who spent a great deal of 2012 sidelined due to injury. The 110m hurdles athlete has good hands, can put a team-mate into the gap and is solid on defence. He has been likened to Jean de Villiers.
Andre Esterhuizen (Klerksdorp): At 1.91m and 104kg this fullback can also play centre. Represented the SA Sevens team in 2011 while still in Grade 11 and was expected to walk into the SA Schools team last year. However, he got suspended for six months for using a racist term.
Sandile Kubeka (Kearsney): The SA Schools centre had a quiet Craven Week by his high standards. Contender for the KZN Player of the Year and deserved a national U18 cap. Won a local annual sports hero award. Three years of 1st XV experience.
Bart le Roux (Framesby): The 1.91m, 116kg tighthead prop was part of the unbeaten EP Craven Week team in 2012. A year before that Le Roux represented the SA Academy team against France. For a big man, Le Roux is able to get around the park and thrives on being in the thick of the action.
Stefan van Schalkwyk (Oakdale): He is 1.87m and 122kg. Good scrummager, and for a young guy of his size, his mobility and hands are exceptional. Packs some good aggression.
Marné Coetzee (Glenwood): Tighthead prop who made the 2011 SA Schools team playing Craven Week for the Blue Bulls while attending Waterkloof. He moved to Durban later the year after accepting a contract to play for the Sharks once his schooling was completed. Played for the Sharks in the U19 domestic competition last year. Part of the SA U20 squad.
Gideon Koegelenberg (Hugenote): The 2012 SA Schools lock – 1.99m and 110kg. Great attitude, high work-rate, good hands and ball-carrying skills. The Sharks flew him to Durban to be part of the their U19 provincial campaign last year.