Sharks Currie Cup coach Brad Macleod-Henderson says Tera Mtembu has all the leadership abilities required to be a great captain. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
Mtembu was named the Sharks' 72nd captain and first black captain in their history on Tuesday ahead of the Currie Cup campaign. With last year's captain Keegan Daniel departing for Japan along with fellow experienced loose forward Jean Deysel, the Sharks have taken the opportunity to look to the future with the appointment of Mtembu.
'The first thing is he's an outstanding rugby player who is guaranteed his place in the starting lineup every week,' Macleod-Henderson told SARugbymag.co.za. 'He's a young, intelligent guy and someone who we expect to go very far with the union and in rugby. He's a natural leader and people gather towards him. He's captained all of the teams he's played in, from school rugby to the Vodacom Cup, so leadership is not completely alien to him.'
Be that as it may, the drain of experienced players in the Sharks ranks have left the Durban side with few senior players on their books. The Blue Bulls' 2013 Currie Cup season is a prime example of the pitfalls of entering a campaign with too many fresh young faces. Macleod-Henderson understands the need for balance and believes that the senior players left behind will play an important role alongside Mtembu this season.
'We're fortunate to still have guys like Jacques Botes and Odwa Ndungane in the squad. Jacques has captained the side previously and [former England prop] Matt Stevens has some previous leadership experience so we're glad that we have a couple older heads around to help and assist Tera.'
The Sharks came in for some criticism during the Super Rugby season for their formulaic approach under Jake White, with Macleod-Henderson hinting that the Currie Cup side under his guidance might be a bit more adventurous with ball in hand.
'We're all in the business of trying to win games, which is the first priority for us. We'll keep what worked well for us in Super Rugby but we will certainly be looking to add a few more ideas that will give us a bit more bite when we're on attack.'
The Sharks will welcome a number of reinforcements for the Currie Cup campaign. Stevens and Boland lock JC Astle will bolster the forward pack, while journeymen Conrad Hoffman and Lionel Cronjé will add some depth to the backline.
'At the moment we're not looking at any other players. We've already gotten a couple new faces on board but for the time being we're happy with what we've got at our disposal. We've got some talented young players at the union and we want to be able to give them the opportunity to show what they can do.'
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images