Stormers imports included in Sharks squad
Stormers imports Robert du Preez junior and Leolin Zas as well as injured prop Coenie Oosthuizen have been included in the Sharks 45-man 2018 Super Rugby squad announced on Thursday.
Oosthuizen tore knee ligaments playing for the Springboks against Wales last November and coach Robert du Preez senior indicated last week that the front rower would miss Super Rugby entirely.
That assessment seems to have changed although the coach did not address Oosthuizen’s fitness directly when he named the squad.
“We have made a decision to move Thomas du Toit to tighthead this season‚” Du Preez senior said.
“We have chatted to [scrum coaching expert] Pieter de Villiers about it and Thomas is 100 per cent committed to the change.
"We are not going to vacillate with Thomas this season.”
Flyhalf Rob du Preez will team up with his father in what is a powerful group with 12 Springboks included.
Zas‚ a former Junior Springbok‚ missed last year’s Super Rugby with a serious knee injury‚ but in 2015 scored eight tries in 15 matches for the Stormers and will bring added firepower to the back division.
Du Preez junior starred in last year’s Currie Cup and twice delivered superb performances that led Western Province to victory over the Sharks in the final round of pool play and in the final.
The 24-year-old Du Preez‚ will also join his 22-year-old twin brothers‚ Jean-Luc and Daniel in Sharks colours. The latter two are both senior Springboks.
Lock Ruan Botha‚ has been made captain for the season.
“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‚” Du Preez senior said.
“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.”
The squad consists of 25 forwards and 20 backs.
Wing Makazole Mapimpi has moved from the Cheetahs and joining him for the first time in the Sharks Super Rugby squad is hooker Akker van der Merwe‚ Bok scrumhalf Louis Schreuder‚ flank/lock Tyler Paul and prop Ross Geldenhuys.
Courtney Winnaar‚ Gideon Koegelenberg‚ Grant Williams‚ Kerron van Vuuren and Khuta Mchunu are all uncapped at Super Rugby level.
“It was hard to leave several guys out‚ which is one of the reasons we went with a 45-man group‚” Du Preez senior said.
“These are guys that could potentially all play Super Rugby and normally in a season you’d use 38-40 players.
“I’ve been impressed with the youngsters and there is going to be big competition for places this season.
"Our success will depend on how we utilise the squad but we will have to be smart about rotation.”
Armand van der Merwe‚ Coenie Oosthuizen‚ Chiliboy Ralepelle‚ Daniel du Preez‚ Franco Marais‚ Gideon Koegelenberg‚ Hyron Andrews‚ Jacques Vermeulen‚ Jean Droste‚ Jean-Luc du Preez‚ John-Hubert Meyer‚ Juan Schoeman‚ Keegan Daniel‚ Kerron van Vuuren‚ Khuta Mchunu‚ Lubabalo Mtembu‚ Mzamo Majola‚ Philip van der Walt‚ Ross Geldenhuys‚ Ruan Botha (captain)‚ Stephan Lewies‚ Tendai Mtawarira‚ Thomas du Toit‚ Tyler Paul‚ Wian Vosloo.
Andre Esterhuizen‚ Cameron Wright‚ Courtney Winnaar‚ Curwin Bosch‚ Garth April‚ Grant Williams‚ Jeremy Ward‚ Johan Deysel‚ Kobus van Wyk‚ Leolin Zas‚ Louis Schreuder‚ Lukhanyo Am‚ Lwazi Mvovo‚ Makazole Mapimpi‚ Marius Louw‚ Michael Claassens‚ Rhyno Smith‚ Robert du Preez‚ Sibusiso Nkosi‚ Tristan Blewett.