The Sharks’ signing of talented Yaw Penxe is a smart bit of business, particularly in the absence of fellow outside backs Aphelele Fassi and Makazole Mapimpi, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Following last Saturday’s Springbok Showdown, coach Mzwandile Stick had no hesitation in prophetically pointing out that Penxe was a player who should be snapped up by another franchise after the liquidation of the Kings.
‘I have worked with him since he was 19 at the Kings. I also coached him at the Baby Boks in 2017. I know he is a player with a great potential,’ Stick raved.
Just a couple of days later the Sharks pounced to bring Penxe to Durban along with another highly-rated former Kings player, Thembelani Bholi.
Both recruitments will add great value to the Sharks, but it’s the arrival of Penxe that makes particular sense when one looks a little deeper.
Just prior to the start of local rugby’s resumption, Fassi suffered a serious shoulder injury, robbing the Sharks of their star fullback for the remainder of the season.
Mapimpi – the World Cup-winning superstar – has headed to Japan for a six-month sabbatical, while Sbu Nkosi is still two to three weeks away from a return to fitness. Madosh Tambwe has also been battling with an injury, but should at least be available for the Sharks’ second match of the Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked season.
Penxe has come through the Eastern Cape ranks, having joined the EP academy out of school, and the 23-year-old still has youth on his side.
With the ability to play on the wing or at fullback (Penxe spent most of his schooldays at 15), the talented youngster is one of the most underrated players in South Africa.
Yet this doesn’t mean he hasn’t caught the attention of the Bok coaches, and he looked more than comfortable in a confident performance for the Green side at Newlands on Saturday.
Blessed with plenty of pace – which also harks back to Penxe’s days as a schoolboy star in athletics – the versatile back has oodles of potential, and could now be set to bank some meaningful game time at a big franchise.
‘We feel Yaw is a player who has really shone in the PRO14,’ Sharks coach Sean Everitt commented on Wednesday. ‘He did a damn good job on Saturday, and had that try-scoring opportunity set up by Sanele [Nohamba]. A young guy like that can add huge value to the Sharks going forward.’