It may be early days in the Super Rugby season but the Sharks are getting plaudits for the transformational component of their team.
The Durban side has featured eight players of colour in its starting lineup in the wins over the Bulls and Highlanders.
After S’bu Nkosi returned from the overseas tour due to injury‚ Madosh Tambwe fitted well in his place.
The Sharks will announce their match-day 23 on Thursday for the Super Rugby clash with the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday and few changes are expected.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt said it has been a matter of picking what is in front of them.
“It’s got nothing to do with anything we’ve done intentionally and that’s from a development perspective. The players we have at the Sharks are purely selected on merit and I’ve never once had a look at the numbers to select teams I’ve been coaching at junior and senior level‚” Everitt said.
“They’ve always been there and I’ve always believed that they’re the best in their positions.”
With Nkosi injured‚ Aphelele Fassi and Makazole Mapimpi stepped up in more ways than one for the Sharks in Dunedin last Friday. Everitt said they represent the sort of of measured flair and hard work their younger players aspire to.
Fassi and Mapimpi scored a brace of tries in the Sharks’ 42-20 win against the Highlanders.
“Those two guys are really important to us from a flair and excitement point of view. They also bring the team a fair bit of confidence and Aphelele has brought balance to his game.
“He’s developing his kicking game, so that’s giving us other options and that makes them a little bit more unpredictable‚” Everitt said.
“Mapimpi’s work rate on the field is amazing. If you look at the first try he scored‚ he came from deep in the 22 and the ball was nowhere near him. He then ran himself into a position to score.
“He senses blood and when he chases that gives the team a lot of confidence. Our guys look up to players like that. He won the World Cup while scoring a try in the same game. He’s a bit of a hero among the boys.”
Due to the way in which the Hurricanes bounced back from their opening loss against the Stormers they can’t be taken lightly‚ especially in their opening home game.
With the Sharks having not won in Wellington since 2010‚ Everitt is aware of the attacking and turnover threat the Hurricanes pose.
“Their two performances over the past two weeks have been vastly different. We saw glimpses of them in their game against the Jaguares in terms of what they can do to the opposition.
“Their last try was an example of that because that started from deep in their 22‚” Everitt said. “They’re a team that likes to play at a high tempo and there’s not many teams that have come from behind to win in Buenos Aires.
“We’ve got to be alert and aware on the field and we’re going to have to keep up with them from a tempo point of view.”