Sharks boss Robert du Preez has announced his final 45-man Super Rugby squad as well as a 27-man touring squad, who will depart for Australia on Saturday.
In announcing his 45-man squad, du Preez said: “The work ethic and spirit that these players brought to our pre-season was incredible and all credit goes to them for the positive energy that has been currently created.
“We effectively had a 13-week pre-season and there were no excuses at practice sessions or any complaints about being overworked, and as a coaching unit we commend our players for this.”
The pre-season warm-up matches gave the coaching team the opportunity to see how players faired after 11 weeks of pre-season training to getting actual game-time.
Du Preez stated at the outset that if players put up their hands in the warm-up matches he would consider them and player ages would not influence his decision when picking a touring squad.
Du Preez kept true to his word by selecting four uncapped Super Rugby players to join the touring squad namely Stephan Coetzee, Jean Droste, Sbu Nkosi and new signing Jacques Vermeulen.
Joining them in the touring squad are the other new signings Kobus van Wyk, Jeremy Ward and the highly experienced French international Clement Poitrenaud.
Amongst the new faces in the squad the coach has also opted for continuity in certain positions by selecting players who did duty for the Sharks in last year’s tournament.
“It was an extremely tough decision to settle on this 27-man touring squad,” added Du Preez.
“We were initially looking at selecting a 15/12 split for the tour, but due to the cover we have amongst the backs the decision was taken to go with 16 forwards and 11 backs.
“The 27 players selected have all put up their hands not only during the pre-season, but in the two warm-up matches. There is a good balance between experience and youth in this traveling squad.
“A guy like Sbu Nkosi, who played for the SA U20s last year, has impressed me with his strong work ethic and he deserves his chance.”
The most capped Sharks player forming part of the touring squad is Lwazi Mvovo on 99 Super Rugby caps and who is set to earn a well-deserved milestone on tour. He will join an illustrious club of centurions who have played 100 Super Rugby games for the Sharks.
Du Preez concluded by stating: “There are a lot of players in our 45-man squad who are definitely going to be in the mix going forward. There is great depth, but unfortunately, only 27 players can tour.”
Sharks 45-man Super Rugby squad:
Forwards: Beast Mtawarira,, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Coenie Oosthuizen, Daniel du Preez, Etienne Oosthuizen, Franco Marais, Francois Kleinhans, Hyron Andrews, Jacques Vermeulen, Jean Deysel, Jean Droste, Jean-Luc du Preez, John-Hubert Meyer, Juan Schoeman, Keegan Daniel, Khaya Majola, Lourens Adriaanse, Philip van der Walt, Ruan Botha, Stephan Coetzee, Stephan Lewies, Tera Mtembu, Thomas du Toit
Backs: Andre Esterhuizen, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Clement Poitrenaud, Cobus Reinach, Curwin Bosch, Garth April, Hanco Venter, Inny Radebe, Jeremy Ward, Johan Deysel, Kobus van Wyk, Lukhanyo Am, Lwazi Mvovo, Marius Louw, Michael Claassens, Odwa Ndungane, Patrick Lambie (c), Rhyno Smith, Rowan Gouws, S’bura Sithole, Sbu Nkosi, Tristan Blewett
Sharks 27-man touring squad:
Forwards: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Coenie Oosthuizen, Etienne Oosthuizen, Franco Marais, Jacques Vermeulen, Jean Droste, Jean-Luc du Preez, Juan Schoeman, Lourens Adriaanse, Philip van der Walt, Ruan Botha, Stephan Coetzee, Stephan Lewies, Tendai Mtawarira, Tera Mtembu, Thomas du Toit
Backs: Andre Esterhuizen, Clement Poitrenaud, Cobus Reinach, Curwin Bosch, Jeremy Ward, Kobus van Wyk, Lukhanyo Am, Lwazi Mvovo, Michael Claassens, Patrick Lambie, Sbu Nkosi