The SA Rugby U19 Championship kicks off this weekend for the Cell C Sharks Under 19s who travel to Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium to take on the EP Elephants Under 19s on Saturday.
The issue facing the Under 19 side each year is the same, one of bonding a new group of players together and getting them to gel in a relatively short space of time. To address this, head coach Sean Everitt explains how things have changed in 2018.
“We started earlier than normal this year with the contracted group of 17 players and slowly added to the squad as the season. So we’re well-prepared compared to previous years.”
For a coach looking to blend the youngsters, some just out of school, into a team with a common purpose and playing to its collective ability, Everitt admits that constant and consistent improvement over the course of the season will be paramount.
“Our focus this campaign will be game for game and on our own performance, rather than the result. We have a double-round tournament so there is room for improvement as it goes on and we will develop as we go. So the focus is on our performance and developing the team as a whole.”
Homegrown talent, Phendulani ‘Pepsi’ Buthelezi, playing at eighthman, will lead the side in the tournament. Schooled locally, the product of DHS has leadership running through his veins, having not only captained his school’s 1st XV last year but was also the head boy. He went one further in captaining the Sharks U/18 Craven Week side last year and now stands on the precipice of his biggest role.
‘Pepsi’ Buthelezi, as he is known to his team-mates says the captaincy roles gave him a lot of experience, “And the leadership role I have this year is a step up, but not anything new and it’s something I’m really looking forward to.
“We’ve had a long pre-season that started in January, but the guys have really come together and through all the training we’ve bonded well,” he explains. “At a training camp two weeks ago we set out our team goals, the team values and what we want to achieve together.
“This is not only a talented group, but a bunch of really good guys as well.”
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