Sharks' systems go on trial
Sharks' systems go on trialSHARE
The Sharks will be keen to put on display their systems of developing talent from within, when they start their Currie Cup campaign on Friday.
Griquas will arrive in Durban for the opening match of the 2013 season, where they will face a Sharks team wanting of at least 10 senior players – either on international duty or injured.
Forwards coach Brad Macleod-Henderson sees this as an "exciting" opportunity to put on display some youngsters who have come through the Sharks' own structures and hopefully dispel the notion that they are just a union of imports.
Their reputation as a team that relies mostly on high-profile signings from outside the KwaZulu-Natal feeder areas, justifiably or not, is based on the arrival of high-profile players such as Marius Joubert, Frans Steyn, Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis, Louis Ludik, and Jean Deysel – to name but a few.
However, Macleod-Henderson feels the new season will give some home-grown talent a chance to shine.
With the Springboks ruled out for virtually the entire season, most teams that make significant contributions to the national team will look to blood youngsters in the next few months.
"It is a fantastic competition, a competition we are looking to win," Macleod-Henderson told this website in an interview ahead of the opening round.
"At the same time we are looking at developing some of our young players.
"It [the Currie Cup] is a nice level just below Super Rugby, to see what the guys can do."
He said that looking within the systems to bring that talent through is important.
"On Friday [against Griquas] a few of the youngsters that came through the Sharks system will be playing – a Fred Zeilinga, a Brynard Stander and Sizo Maseko.
"It will be great for us to look what they can do."
Injuries have played as much a part of the Sharks' selection process as Bok call-ups did.
Paul Jordaan, Peter-Steph du Toit, Anton Bresler, Marius Joubert, Frans Steyn and Sibusiso Sithole are among the frontline players sidelined with injury.
And with Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Pat Lambie and Tendai Mtawarira on Bok duty there is obviously a large void to fill.
"We are missing a couple of guys," Macleod-Henderson said, adding: "But we still have some fantastic players in our squad and we'll give some other guys an opportunity."
It is not just the player changes that are making headlines in Durban.
Macleod-Henderson is part of the well-publicised coaching overhaul – which features Brendan Venter in the newly created position as Director of Rugby, Macleod-Henderson as forwards coach and Sean Everitt (as backs mentor.
This came in the wake of new CEO John Smit's decision not to renew John Plumtree's contract as head coach.
"Obviously we don't want to change too much," Macleod-Henderson said of the coaching staff's approach to the season.
"We have quite a short turnaround between the Super Rugby season and the Currie Cup, but there are a few tweaks here and there that we are looking at making.
"It is a fantastic opportunity and one I am looking forward to," he said of his own position.
As for the role that Venter will play, Macleod-Henderson described it as "fantastic" working with the former Bok midfielder, a World Cup winner in 1995.
"He [Venter] has a few new ideas that we will be trying out on Friday," Macleod-Henderson told this website.
"He has a lot of energy and a lot of knowledge of the game.
"It is great having him around – hopefully Friday goes well and we can see the fruits of all that work."
By Jan de Koning