In the first week of discussion of Super Rugby squad contenders for 2014 (23 to 29 December), we will discuss 2 positions in seperate Articles (Props & Hookers) and also seperate the Articles of the 5 SA Super Rugby participating franchises.
That means 10 Super Rugby Articles every week from now on.
The basic idea is to discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.
In this Article we look at the contenders for PROPS in the Cell C Sharks 2014 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.
Name: Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira:
Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira is a Zimbabwean-born South African rugby union player, is fondly known by friends and fans as “The Beast”. Roars of “Beast” are shouted by spectators and fans of the Natal Sharks team whenever Mtawarira attains possession of the ball or makes a big tackle.
He completed his schooling at Peter House in Marondera, Zimbabwe after which he was accepted into the Sharks academy in Durban, where he started to play loosehead prop as he had played in the looseforward position at school.
He is a strong scrummager with great technique as well as a powerful ball-carrier. He made his Test debut against Wales at the start of the 2008 season and was a cornerstone of the Bok scrum when they won the series against the British & Irish Lions in 2009. Because of injuries he missed the start of The Sharks’ season in 2012, but since his return he has been a rock in their pack, as well as for the Springboks. Unfortunately he missed the three Tests in November 2012 because of illness.
He also missed a portion of 2013 with the same heart ailment but came back strongly in the Rugby Championhip and End Of Year Tour for the Springboks to keep and cement is starting role for the Springboks at loosehead prop.
Name: Jannie du Plessis:
Jannie has been a real stalwart for the Sharks in the last few years as Tightheads of international standard have been hard to come by. He started his rugby career in the Free State where he was captain of the Eastern Free State Craven Week team in 1995 and then represented the Free State at under 18 and 19 level.
He studied medicine at the University of the Free State and became a qualified doctor, making him one of the few players in the professional era of rugby union to have a career outside of the sport whilst playing professionally. He then went on to make the Free State senior team in 2003 and continued playing for the Cheetahs through the 2007 Currie Cup. Du Plessis was also named to a South African squad that faced a World XV at Ellis Park in 2006.
He was selected for the Springbok squad for the first time during the 2007 Tri-Nations, making his debut in the starting XV on 7 July against Australia during the Boks’ home leg. The match was significant for him in another way, as his younger brother, Bismarck, made his Springbok debut as a substitute in the same match while he was still on the field. This made the Du Plessis brothers the 23rd set of brothers to earn Springbok colours.
Jannie du Plessis in 2008 made his move to the Sharks where he currently still applies his trade as a professional rugby player and has represented the Sharks in all competitions on 103 occasions and has probably been at his best this past year where even having played a total of 36 matches for the year, inbetween where possible he also still performs his duties as a medical doctor. Very few people give this man credit for what he has and still achieves.
This is the kind of man doctor Jannie Du Plessis is – he received an unexpected opportunity to use his medical skills in the wake of a 2009 tragedy. In the early morning hours of 29 March, Brumbies lock Shawn Mackay was hit by a car outside a Durban nightclub, suffering a paralyzing injury. Du Plessis was at the scene because he was helping Brumbies players get back to their hotel after their match with the Sharks. He helped Mackay breathe and contacted emergency services, who stabilized him and rushed him to a hospital. However, despite all medical efforts, Mackay would die from complications of his injuries several days later.
In 2013 he was heavily overplayed, as a result of which his general enthusiasm in a game, his defence and lack of high work-rate in a game situation is starting to count against him, however he is still the preferred choice as Springbok tighthead prop. Players like Lourens Adriaanse (now also at the Sharks) and Frans Malherbe of the Stormers will be pushing Jannie hard for a starting berth at the Springboks in 2014.
Name: Lourens Adriaanse:
Lourens Adriaanse was born in Cape Town and played in the Western Province youth teams. He represented Maties in the Varsity Cup in 2009 and 2010, before moving to the Griquas for the 2011 season. His domestic performances saw a quick elevation to the Cheetahs Super Rugby team and he debuted in a match against the Reds in Brisbane.
He joined the Sharks for the start of the 2014 season.
Adriaanse was called up to the Springbok squad for the 2013 June International Tests against Italy, Scotland and Samoa, but he didn’t play in any of the matches. He finally made his Springbok debut in a test against France on 23 November 2013 in Paris.
Lourens Adriaanse should get plenty of game time in 2014 under Jake White’s Sharks, in a squad with massive depth. He will want to stamp his authority at Sharks tighthead and will definately be a contender for Springbok honours in 2014.
Name: Wiehahn Herbst:
He represented the following sides:
- Leopards U18 Craven Week 2005 & 2006, SA Schools 2006
- Leopards U19 2006
- Elite U18 2007, SA U19 Trials 2007, Natal U19 2007
- SA U20 Trials 2008, Varsity Cup 2008, SA U20 to IRB Junior World Championships in Wales 2008
- Sharks U21
- The Sharks in Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup & Super Rugby
Wiehahn is a hard working tighthead prop, who can also pack down at loosehead and during 2013 some wanted him to be pulled up for higher honours as backup for Jannie du Plessis at the Springboks. He took part in the extended Springbok training squads but with Lourens Adriaanse now also at the Sharks, his chances of national honours has waned and he should get less game time than in 2013.
Name: Dale Chadwick:
Dale Chadwick plays loosehead prop and should be backup to Beast Mtawarira.
He has played for the following sides:
- 2005 – Natal U16 Grant Khomo Week
- 2007 – Kwazulu Natal U/18 Coca-Cola Craven Week, SA Schools
- 2008 – Sharks U19
- 2009 till present – The Sharks in the Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup and Super Rugby
Dale does not realistically stand a chance at National honours in 2014 or soon thereafter.
The Sharks are virtually assured to start with their two frontline props, Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis but expect Lourens Adriaanse to rotate regularly at thighthead with Jannie du Plessis and with Wiehahn Herbst and possibly Dale Chadwick to get game time too.
The Sharks have awesome depth in most positions, probably the best depth of ALl Super Rugby sides and there is no reason why the Sharks scrum, with these props anchoring their scrum should not be one of the best in the Competition.
Having 2 first choice Springbok props PLUS a Springbok tighthead tourist of 2013 in their midst, sounds a warning to all front rows of other franchises. A Player like Jannie du Plessis will have to get more active and successful on defence and in the tackling department, otherwise this season could be one of his last at top level.
The next Article in the range will deal with the Cell C Sharks’ hookers.