Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
30 Mar 2017
5:57 pm

Sharks rejoice over their versatile (and black) playmakers

Heinz Schenk

Most well-known utility backs are usually white players. That's not the case in Robert du Preez's team with the Bosch, April and Radebe trio.

Garth April has fought his way back from poor discipline last year to really impress in this year's campaign. Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images.

Two weeks ago, supporters of change in rugby were scratching their heads.

Robert du Preez, the Sharks coach, had decided to select the untested, 20-year-old Benhard Janse van Rensburgat flyhalf for the meeting with the Kings.

It was a decision that raised eyebrows because players like Inny Radebe and Garth April – both more experienced than him – were expected to be ahead in the pecking order.

Also read: Sharks open a can of transformation worms with flyhalf pick

Radebe was left kicking his heels but April was picked on the bench, replaced the misfiring Janse van Rensburg and immediately made an impact.

When the Durbanites play the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday, the picture would’ve changed markedly.

April will start at fullback and Radebe will be the red-hot, 19-year-old Curwin Bosch’s deputy at flyhalf.

Ironically, the talented but raw Janse van Rensburg has been released to the national Under-20 side.

April, Radebe and Bosch’s presence at Ellis Park is a remarkable triumph.

All three aren’t white and all three are so versatile that they can play both flyhalf and fullback.

It’s little wonder the usually poker-faced Du Preez is rather excited by the trio.

“Those three players’ versatility is really a big help,” said the Sharks mentor.

“It provides me with lots of options and it’s never a bad thing to have players that you can switch around. More importantly, all three are really good kickers. It’s exactly what you want from players in those positions.”

April’s return to the starting line-up will be particularly sweet.

The 25-year-old made headlines last year when he unexpectedly made the Springbok squad for the series against Ireland.

His nerveless kicking and nifty footwork saw him deliver some good performances in his debut Super Rugby campaign, leading to Bok coach Allister Coetzee selecting him.

But ill-discipline saw him suspended by the Sharks’ team management shortly after that and he’s had his work cut out proving himself again.

“Garth’s done really well when he’s played,” said Du Preez.

“It’s been a long, tough road for him to come back but he’s in a great space mentally. We’re really happy wit him.”

Radebe’s chance to show some of his ability is also welcomed.

“He’s happy and we’re really happy,” said Du Preez.

“Inny had an excellent game in last week’s friendly. He’s ready to play.”

Sharks: Garth April, Kobus van Wyk, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Curwin Bosch, Cobus Reinach, Dan du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Tera Mtembu (c), Ruan Botha, Etienne Oosthuizen, Coenie Oosthuizen, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Thomas du Toit. Bench: Franco Marais, Juan Schoeman, Lourens Adriaanse, Stephan Lewies, Jacques Vermeulen, Michael Claassens, Inny Radebe, Jeremy Ward.

For more sport your way, follow The Citizen on Facebook and Twitter.