The Sharks have named a very settled 35-man squad for their Super Rugby campaign starting this weekend.
The squad to play in this year’s tournament shows no great surprises with two players drafted in from outside, a couple of new faces that have been in the system and the familiar faces that have been around.
A settled squad is exactly what the Sharks present this year, with Franco van der Merwe and Butch James having represented the Lions previously - although James spent the bulk of his career with the Sharks as the only newcomers.
Allan Dell has shown good early form and has been in the system for some time, so it is a natural progression for this youngster who can play on either side of the front row.
He is joined by another youngster, Pieter-Steph du Toit, who represented the Sharks last year before a season-ending injury. Du Toit was part of the victorious SA Under-20 side that won the IRB Junior World Champs and will serve the Sharks at lock and loose-forward.
Kyle Cooper, Monde Hadebe, Jandre Marais, Peet Marais, Tera Mtembu, Cobus Reinach and Sibusiso Sithole may not be established stars, but they have been in the system for a season or two and now boast valuable experience for the Sharks.
A player like Sibusiso Sithole will want to push the first choice wingers in the squad as he has had to play second or third string for a few seasons now. He is a player with a lot of pace and an eye for the line so he will hope that if he gets a chance he can grab it and run with it.
These junior players, many with Currie Cup experience, will have a solid base of more experienced players to look up to this season. These senior players will have their work cut out for them because a lot of these younger players are itching to get some game time in the biggest provincial rugby show-piece in the Southern hemisphere.
Injuries will be John Plumtrees biggest concern as the Sharks have lost two of their best loose forwards in Keegan Daniel and Willem Alberts for the opening rounds of the tournament but if you asked him, he would rather have these injuries now than towards the business end of the season.
The South African conference is going to be a tightly-fought affair with the Sharks, the Stormers and the Bulls all producing strong squads depth is going to be a key.
The Sharks squad has an air of continuity to it and that will give them confidence that they will be on top come play-off time.
The Sharks 2013 Squad: Willem Alberts, Meyer Bosman, Jacques Botes, Anton Bresler, Craig Burden, Dale Chadwick, Marcell Coetzee, Kyle Cooper, Keegan Daniel, Allan Dell, Jean Deysel, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Monde Hadebe, Wiehahn Herbst, Butch James, Paul Jordaan, Ryan Kankowski, Pat Lambie, Louis Ludik, Jandre Marais, Peet Marais, Charl McLeod, Tendai Mtawarira, Lubabalo Mtembu, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Cobus Reinach, Sibusiso Sithole, Francois Steyn, Franco van der Merwe, Riaan Viljoen, Tim Whitehead.