You can understand why Sharks chief executive Gary Teichmann addressed the 18 000-strong Kings Park crowd before the match against the Blue Bulls last week and promised that patience and faith in this young team would result in handsome dividends for Sharks fans.
In this Currie Cup, the Sharks are indeed trying to lay the foundations for something special.
Against the Bulls we saw the class of 20-year-old fullback Curwin Bosch, centres Lukhanyo Am (22), Andre Esterhuizen (22) and scrumhalves Stefan Ungerer (22) and Hanco Venter (23), all of whom were marshalled by flyhalf Inny-Christian Radebe, who is 21.
All of the above have pedigrees in that they have variously played for Craven Week, SA Schools or SA Under-20, or in some cases all three. The potential is rich, and if they can be kept together the Sharks’ future could be bright.
Radebe, who completed a patient apprenticeship at the Sharks Academy before his elevation to the Currie Cup No 10 jersey, says coach Robert du Preez has given the laaities freedom to express themselves.
“The coach wants to take the team down the road of running rugby, and he has given us license to attack,” the self-assured Radebe said.
“He has told us that mistakes will happen as we embrace this style of rugby, but he has backed us to give it a full go while trying to become more efficient each week.”
Fluent in English and Afrikaans, Radebe is a new age South African. He went to an Afrikaans primary school in Krugersdorp, and was at high school at English-medium St Stithians College in Johannesburg.
After two years of Craven Week for the Golden Lions, he has been at the Sharks Academy ever since matriculating.
“I had hoped to crack it at Super Rugby level this year, but I suffered a knee cartilage injury,” he said.
“But it has worked out well for me. I am pleased that I worked my way through the various age groups at the Sharks. It enabled me to mature at a good pace, and I now feel confident at Currie Cup level.”
Radebe said that his career in rugby was possibly down to the influence of his brother.
“He is 10 years older than me and thrust a rugby ball in my hands just about as soon as I was capable of holding on to it,” he recalls.
“I played my first game (of mini-rugby) at the age of six.”
In the Sharks’ senior squad this year, he says Springbok Patrick Lambie has been a huge influence.
“I watched Pat play when I was at high school and thought he was exceptional, and next thing I was rubbing shoulders with him,” Radebe says. “He has been awesome with the advice he so readily gives.”
The Sharks are unbeaten in the Currie Cup after four rounds, and this week is the tough task of Western Province at Newlands.
“Province have not had the best start to the Curie Cup, but they are winning again and they will come really hard at us,” he says. “I think it was vital for us that we held out the Bulls last week. That has given us a big boost of confidence. We will need that in Cape Town, for sure.” – The Mercury
Original source: Radebe leads new generation of Sharks