Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch believes their new-look backline will step up in the absence of several key players when the Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup kicks off. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The Sharks were hands down the best local team in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby campaign and sat at the summit of the competition standings when the season was ended abruptly due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The Durban-based side’s back division was particularly impressive, as it featured Boks Louis Schreuder, Curwin Bosch, Andre Esterhuizen, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi and Sbu Nkosi across the board from Nos 9 to 14, with the talented, but uncapped Aphelele Fassi at fullback.
But when the revised season kicks off in a couple of weeks, the Sharks will start their campaign with a revamped backline following the departure of Schreuder (Newcastle Falcons), Esterhuizen (Harlequins) and Mapimpi (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes) and the injury-enforced absence of Nkosi and Fassi.
As it stands, Bosch and Am will be the only remaining backs available for the selection from the Sharks team that played their last game against the Stormers on 14 March. But coach Sean Everitt has brought in several reinforcements, including the likes of former Bulls player Manie Libbok and Blitzbok Werner Kok, while also calling on squad members such as Sanele Nohamba and Jeremy Ward to play a bigger role.
‘I don’t think the anyone will have a problem slotting in, our game plan and model is very simple, but effective,’ Bosch said in an online media conference on Monday.
‘We haven’t really changed much since lockdown, it’s just about fine-tuning the detail of what we’re trying to do and tweaking things here and there, but mostly it stays the same. It’s a nice challenge for the guys to put up their hands and let the coaches know they’re ready to step up and ready to play at this level.
‘We all know how talented Sanele really is and he has been working hard on the technical aspects of the game. We play more of a contestable kicking game and he has worked quite hard on that, too. He is a special rugby player and we know what he can do.
‘And then there’s a guy like Jeremy Ward at 12. He has been in and around our system for a couple of seasons now and I think he is quite comfortable in that position.
‘And then obviously Manie at 15. He has played there before. It’s not his preferred position but I think he’ll do well there, especially when you take into account the backline that we have. The style that we play and the backs he has around him, will complement his game and we’re really looking forward to see what he can add to our backline and our team as a whole,’ Bosch said of Libbok.
‘Everyone knows the type of player Werner is. We pride ourselves on never giving up and going for the full 80 minutes and Werner is the type of player that will never back down. With his work rate and his work ethic off the ball, he will add a lot of value to our team.
‘They will really add a lot of value to us and we look forward to seeing how they fit into our game structure and how they understand our game model.’
Bosch was especially excited about linking up and playing alongside his long-time friend Ward on a more regular basis, now that the latter is expected to wear the No 12 jersey more permanently.
‘Jeremy and I played alongside each other for SA U20 and at Craven Week and we played first team together at school [for Grey High]. We have a great understanding of how the other thinks on the field,’ he explained.
‘For combinations, the 10-12 axis is quite important. Jeremy knows my body language, he knows when I’m going to kick or when I’m going to run and that makes the communication between us that much easier.’
Photo: Steve Haag/HollywoodBets