Six weeks of hard fitness grind for new Shark Siya Kolisi
By Mike Greenaway 32m ago
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DURBAN – The Sharks’ latest recruit, Siya Kolisi, will not feature in the series of “preparation” matches organised by SA Rugby ahead of April’s Rainbow Cup, and a number of other star players will feature only now and again.
Sharks chief executive Eduard Coetzee has said that the Sharks view these preparation games — each of the eight teams will play four matches — as exactly that: preparation for the April 17 kick-off of the Rainbow Cup, which will feature the four former SA Super Rugby teams plus the European teams currently busy with the PRO14.
With the dust on the January 23 Currie Cup final only just settled, Coetzee said that the Sharks would be using the last week of February and the month of March as a “mini pre-season,” after the players were given a break from January 24 until yesterday, when they regathered.
The Sharks host Griquas on Sunday; the Bulls are also in action on Sunday at Loftus against Eastern Province Elephants in an earlier game, while the series kicks off on Friday (Lions vs Pumas) and Saturday sees the Cheetahs visiting the Stormers.
There is no trophy or log points at stake for this series of matches, so we can expect all of the teams to use them as a form of pre-season trials.
Coetzee says Kolisi will spend the next six weeks on a conditioning programme.
The Springbok captain for various injury and Covid-19 related reasons barely played in 2020 and, by his own request, wants to get stuck into a rigorous fitness regime to get him into peak condition before he plays again.
Coetzee said that the Sharks would use the matches to grow depth, test combinations, rest certain players that were overplayed, and trial youngsters.
The chief executive has also confirmed that wing Madosh Tambwe has been released to join the Bulls — the Congo-born former Lions star struggled to get game time behind Yaw Penxe — while the latter player has signed a contract with the Sharks.
Penxe joined the Sharks on loan from the now-defunct Kings and made an impression as a strong running, hard-tackling wing who was also fearless in the air. Interestingly, the teams will play on a ten-day cycle (rather than each week) to manage Covid-19 testing protocols.
This solves a major frustration of the recently completed Currie Cup where coaches only knew which players were available when Covid-19 results came in on the Wednesday before a match
The eight teams – the Elephants join the seven sides that competed in the Currie Cup– have been split into two groups and will play cross-pool matches, ensuring four encounters for every team.
Pool A will consist of the Bulls, Lions, Griquas and Cheetahs, and they will play the four sides in Pool B, namely the Sharks, Stormers, Pumas and Elephants.