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Ken Borland


Sharks continue to hide their URC players from dual duty

Posted on April 13, 2022 by Ken

The Sharks will continue to hide their leading URC players away from doing dual duty in the Currie Cup even though they are hosting the table-topping Free State Cheetahs in a vital match at Kings Park on Wednesday, but one star player who will feature, albeit off the bench, is Dylan Richardson.

Following their defeat to a star-studded Bulls team last week, the Sharks have slipped to third place on the log and are four points behind the unbeaten Cheetahs. But while the Bulls have regularly targeted key Currie Cup games by fielding several URC starters, the KwaZulu-Natalians are following a different policy.

But Richardson, named as a replacement loose forward on Tuesday, will certainly bring some quality. The 23-year-old Scottish international is a bit of a hoodlum on the field and he has already been bringing an edge to the Sharks’ training sessions following his return from a stress fracture in his leg.

“Dylan has been out for a while with a succession of unfortunate injuries and we can see he is really champing at the bit,” Sharks Currie Cup coach Etienne Fynn said on Tuesday.

“We’ve had a bit of niggle in training recently and it has been driven by him mostly,” Fynn added with a smile.

The feisty Richardson, who made his debut for Scotland towards the end of last year, will bring dynamism and power to the Sharks team and targets the breakdown hard, all valuable assets against a free-flowing Free State side.

As for the Sharks’ decision to not load their side – they also have a United Rugby Championship match against Edinburgh on Saturday evening – Fynn says the union’s management are rating the Currie Cup players just as highly as the URC regulars.

“I told the forwards today after a lineout session that not one of them is not good enough to be picked for the URC,” Fynn said. “We have a decent side with quality individuals.

“The opposition does not matter, we still have proper rugby players like Dian Bleuler, Hyron Andrews, James Venter and Fez Mbatha. We just try to field our most competitive team every time.

“Because of the URC, and playing two competitions at once, sometimes players have to double up and then it’s tough. The Free State Cheetahs are privileged to have consistency of selection.

“So we decided to go with the same pack as against the Bulls last week. That way you have the understanding of what the guy next to you is doing. The Cheetahs are really polished in the opposition 22 and that comes with playing together,” Fynn said.

Sharks teamJordan Chait, Yaw Penxe, Jeremy Ward, Ethan Fisher, Curwin Gertse, Tito Bonilla, Cameron Wright (v/c), Celimpilo Gumede, Thembelani Bholi, James Venter (c), Hyron Andrews, Emile van Heerden, Wiehahn Herbst, Fez Mbatha, Dian Bleuler. Replacements: Dan Jooste, Braam Reyneke, Lourens Adriaanse, Jeandre Labuschagne, Dylan Richardson, OJ Noah, Sanele Nohamba, Lloyd Koster.

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