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White to test Sharks' depth

Wed, 15 Jan 2014 13:26
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It's great being able to learn from and play with the Springboks
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The Sharks will use their trip to Saracens later this month test the dept of the squad ahead of the Super Rugby season.

The 26-man Sharks squad, to play Saracens in a pre-season friendly at Allianz Park in London on Saturday, January 25, will feature more than a dozen Springboks.

These include Lourens Adriaanse, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Keegan Daniel, Jean Deysel, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Tendai Mtawarira, Charl McLeod, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane and Francois Steyn.

However, Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White made it clear there will be a trial element to the trip.

"This match will provide us with the ideal opportunity to view the depth in our squad as we look to conclude our preparations ahead of the start of the Super Rugby tournament," the World Cup-winning former Bok mentor said.

"It is great to have our Springboks back and available for selection.

"We are expecting a highly-competitive match against Saracens and are looking forward to the encounter."

Bok utility back Patrick Lambie is one of the high-profile names missing from the squad, as he will be attending a wedding.

One young player relishing the opportunity to be a part of the squad is big centre Andre Esterhuizen.

He arrived at The Sharks Academy last year from the Leopards, and although just 19, played in the Vodacom Cup as well as for The Sharks Under-21 last year.

"I had a good season last year and it's great to be training with the senior players now, it's a good experience," he explains enthusiastically.

After representing the Leopards at provincial level through the age grades - Under-13, Under-16 and Under-18 - he decided to seek his fortune in Durban.

"I came to Durban because there is a good level of junior rugby and great structures which bring the younger players through."

He said: "It's great being able to learn from and play with the Springboks in the team, and although I'm a lot younger than them and it has been hard work, they have made me feel very comfortable and treat me like an equal."

And the opportunity to learn from a World Cup-winning coach?

"It's a big honour to be trained by Jake White, there is just so much to learn from him, he's a great coach," he admitted.

He tempers his high hopes of playing for the senior side with the fact that this is a high quality squad.

"I can only hope, but it's going to take a lot of hard work which I know I need to put it. I'm very excited for the year ahead."

Sharks squad:

Forwards: Lourens Adriaanse, Willem Alberts, Dale Chadwick, Marcell Coetzee, Kyle Cooper, Keegan Daniel, Jean Deysel, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Stephan Lewies, Tendai Mtawarira, Tera Mtembu, Etienne Oosthuizen.

Backs: Andre Esterhuizen, Tyler Fisher, Paul Jordaan, Charl McLeod, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, Cobus Reinach, Francois Steyn, Timothy Swiel, Jaco van Tonder, Heimar Williams, Fred Zeilinga.

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