Lock Ruan Botha has been appointed as captain of the Sharks’ 45-man squad for the 2018 Super Rugby season.
Botha led the Sharks in last year’s Currie Cup competition, and coach Robert du Preez has handed him the same role for their Super Rugby campaign.
The group consists of 25 forwards and 20 backs, with 12 squad members capped at Springbok level.
The inclusion of new recruits Rob du Preez, Leolin Zas and Makazole Mapimpi headline the squad; while five other players – Courtney Winnaar, Gideon Koegelenberg, Grant Williams, Kerron van Vuuren and Khuta Mchunu – will play Super Rugby for the first time.
Having joined the union during last year’s Currie Cup, the Sharks have also retained the services of hooker Akker van der Merwe, prop Ross Geldenhuys, flank Tyler Paul and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder for Super Rugby.
Du Preez said they are excited about the depth in the squad, which will make for healthy competition in all positions.
‘The youngsters have really done well, brought positive energy to our session and been a big part of our pre-season success. Many of the players named, made their debuts just last year and showed massive potential,’ he explained.
‘Going into 2018 it is important that they continue to look for improvement and it is our job to ensure that the energy and enthusiasm they bring, is channelled in the right direction, and is for the greater good of the team.’
The coach believes the appointment of Botha as team captain is just reward for the progress the player has made as a leader in recent months.
‘Ruan was handed the captaincy armband for last year’s Currie Cup campaign, and led from the front with strong performances and showed growth as a leader, as the competition progressed. I’ve been impressed with his maturity and hunger to improve not only his game, but to take forward the team’s ambitions as well.’
Sharks squad – Akker van der Merwe, André Esterhuizen, Coenie Oosthuizen, Cameron Wright, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Courtney Winnaar, Dan du Preez, Curwin Bosch, Franco Marais, Garth April, Gideon Koegelenberg, Grant Williams, Hyron Andrews, Jeremy Ward, Jacques Vermeulen, Johan Deysel, Jean Droste, Kobus van Wyk, Jean-Luc du Preez, Leolin Zas, John-Hubert Meyer, Louis Schreuder, Juan Schoeman, Lukhanyo Am, Keegan Daniel, Lwazi Mvovo, Kerron van Vuuren, Makazole Mapimpi, Khuta Mchunu, Marius Louw, Lubabalo ‘Tera’ Mtembu, Michael Claassens, Mzamo Majola, Rhyno Smith, Philip van der Walt, Rob du Preez, Ross Geldenhuys, Sbusiso Nkosi, Ruan Botha (c), Tristan Blewett, Stephan Lewies, Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira, Thomas du Toit, Tyler Paul, Wian Vosloo.