Unknown Nkosi replaces notable omission Sithole for Sharks in Australasia
Sibusiso Sithole was the notable omission from the Sharks’ 27-man touring squad for their two-match Australasian Super Rugby safari.
His place has been taken by the unknown but talented Sibusiso Nkosi‚ who has come through the ranks at the union.
Sharks Super Rugby coach Robert du Preez said he was not in doubt about Sithole’s talent and work ethic but felt Nkosi had made all the right moves to earn a place on the flight to Australia.
The Sharks kick off their campaign next week Friday against the Reds in Brisbane before moving on to the Brumbies in Canberra on March 4.
The rest of the 45-man Super Rugby squad was also named but Du Preez has only taken two flyhalves on tour.
“It’s hard to leave guys behind because there’s a fine line that one needs to tread when it comes to the forwards and backs split‚” Du Preez said.
“I also do think Sbu [Nkosi] has worked very hard and we know what we have in Sbura [Sithole]. He’s very experienced but I think at this stage Nkosi is one step ahead of him.
“But it’s a very long season and we haven’t played our first game yet. I do think we’ll see Sbura in the mix.
“We were debating whether to take a second flyhalf and some of the options we had were Garth April and Innocent Radebe along with Curwin Bosch and there was little to choose between them.
“At this stage‚ we’re happy to go with Patrick Lambie and Curwin as our number 10s on tour. The latter will be covering Pat as our second pivot.”
The Reds have flattered to deceive since their title win in 2011 and they do not hold the fear factor they used to have when they had the likes of Quade Cooper and Will Genia in their ranks.
They contributed to Australia’s junk status in Super Rugby last year and they were routinely on the end of sound defeats.
Having seen off a tough New Zealand challenge last season‚ the weaker Australian conference should hold no terrors for the Sharks.
However‚ they have been known to slip up against Australian opposition with trips to Sydney and Canberra being the least favoured.
Du Preez is aware of this and said the Reds’ reasonable pre-season form makes them a team to watch.
“They played against the Rebels in a pre-season match at Ballymore and it looked to be very hot‚ and that’s going to be the conditions we may find ourselves in‚” he said.
“It’s something similar to what we have here but they’ve assembled a very strong squad and they’ve also got Stephen Moore‚ George Smith and Scott Higginbotham.
“They will be a very different proposition this year.”
* - The Lions also announced their 40-man Super Rugby with Craven Week star Hacjivah Dayimani being the eyebrow raising selection.
- TMG Digital/TMG Sport