The Sharks could be set for a big Vodacom Super Rugby campaign, if they can strike the right balance. ANDRE HUISAMEN looks at three rookies to watch in their squad.
JJ van der Mescht
One of the most exciting young prospects currently in South Africa. Van der Mescht is poised for a stellar season and could have a real influence on the Sharks forward pack. Educated at Glenwood High School, the powerful lock has Sharks blood running through his veins and has donned the famous black-and-white colours since his early school career. He made his Super Rugby debut for the coastal outfit in their 42-5 win over the Lions in Johannesburg last year, while he also got a run a week later – this time in a heavy home defeat by the Jaguares. Van der Mescht, though, really caught the attention at last year’s Junior World Championship in Argentina where he was the heart of a strong Junior Springbok pack. He also famously scored an intercept try against New Zealand in the final pool match.
Like Van der Mescht, Richardson was also a big part of Sean Roux’s forwards dominance at the Junior World Championship last year. Although he can play as a loose forward, Richardson mostly operates as a hooker and it’s in that position where he made his Super Rugby debut for the Sharks from the bench last year – also against the Lions at Ellis Park. His versatility adds to his power game and he has brought much competition to the young hookers currently in the Sharks squad. He would, however, be hoping to build on the successful 2019 he’s had and strive for more consistent game time this year.
Another Junior Springbok forward from last year but also the captain of the team that claimed bronze in Argentina. Buthelezi is destined for a great future and expectations are high to see him develop as one of the great flanks in the country. He also made his Super Rugby debut for the Sharks in last year’s competition when he came on as a replacement in their victory over the Sunwolves in Singapore. Buthelezi was part of the Sharks Currie Cup team that made it all the way to the semi-final before losing to eventual champions the Cheetahs. He operates as a very dynamic loose forward and is a strong ball-carrier, which will fit the Sharks game plan perfectly.