Sharks rely on young guns

Dick Muir is delighted with the number of youngsters coming through the Sharks ranks, many of whom could have an important part to play in the Vodacom Super 14.

The two Sharks teams that beat the Leopards last weekend were packed with young talent, as should be the case again against the Bulls (in two matches) at Sun City on Saturday.

“There were some very pleasing performances from the new guys,” Muir told Mercury rugby writer Mike Greenaway. “Some confirmed they might have what it takes, others did not. That is what warm-up games are for. You only really know how good a guy is when you test him in a genuine match situation.”

Muir was also impressed with scrumhalf Scott Mathie, a 22-year-old former DHS pupil who has been playing age group rugby for the Bulls for the last two seasons but has now returned home.

“We are looking really good in that department because Ruan Pienaar and Sandile Nxumalo are also looking very sharp,” Muir said. However, Craig Davidson is still struggling with a lower back injury and is a doubtful starter for the Sharks Super 14 opener against the Chiefs on 11 February.

With Butch James also on the injured list and Tony Brown yet to arrive in Durban from his Japanese club, Muir has turned to a number of young flyhalves, including former Natal U19 pivot Scott Spedding and Natal U21′s Steve Meyer.

Midfield has also been a concern for Muir going into the Super 14, but the problem seems to be taking care of itself.

“Andries Strauss [the SA Under-21 captain recruited from Free State] controlled the midfield really well and Craig Burden, Gcobani Bobo and Grant Rees were also impressive,” said Muir.

Keo.co.za will be at Sun City this weekend to bring you all the latest news from the Sharks camp. We will also be covering both Sharks-Bulls warm-up matches.