While it is not a novel idea, the concept of having a dual leadership set-up for the Cell C Sharks’ Currie Cup campaign is all about development and growth within the side and building for the future.
The Cell C Sharks have a good mix of experienced, battle-hardened players and some exciting and talented youngsters which bodes well in the team’s defence of the title they hold after defeating Western Province in last year’s final to be crowned Currie Cup champions.
In announcing Jeremy Ward and Tera Mtembu as the Cell C Sharks co-captains, head coach Sean Everitt explained the reasoning behind this decision.
“We looked at the make-up of the squad and the theme of the campaign which is all about growth,” he began.
“This campaign is about growing the squad, growing the individuals and bringing the youngsters through and this is the perfect opportunity, going forward, to develop a guy like Jeremy who has shown outstanding leadership qualities.
“It also takes the pressure off Tera a little bit. He’s been the Cell C Sharks’ Super Rugby and Currie Cup captain in the past and I thought it would be good for Jeremy to have someone to lean on. Tera is coming back from injury and at times we will give Jeremy the reins to lead the team.
“So it is more to grow the leadership in the group than having an experienced leader going into this campaign.”
Co-captain Tera Mtembu admitted that a leadership role wasn’t something he had considered. Instead it was focusing on getting back onto the field and contributing to the team’s success.
“I didn’t see it coming to be honest,” he said. “I’m just grateful to get another opportunity to play and all credit to the management staff, everyone played their role. And thanks to the coaching staff for giving me this opportunity.
“I want to add value where I can and enjoy every single moment.”
Co-captain Jeremy Ward will also have a big role to play in the competition. A deadly defender and an exciting attacking centre, his leadership abilities have been well documented, particularly as the captain of the SA Under 21s in the World Rugby Under 21 Championship.
“I’m so excited, it’s a huge responsibility – I recognise and understand that – but an opportunity for me as a young leader to learn from Tera which I’m really excited to do, and also to work in a new role within the team,” he explained in the lead-up to Friday’s opening Currie Cup clash with Griquas at Jonsson KINGS PARK.
“I don’t believe you need a leadership title, the challenge for all of us is to enhance the leadership within the team and Tera and I plan on doing that.
“We want the youngsters who are coming through to step up. To empower them to play their natural game.”
Friday night’s round one match kicks off at 7.15pm.