Coach Sean Everitt says the decision to go with duel captaincy for the Currie Cup season is part of a greater plan to enhance the depth of leadership within the squad.
The Sharks became the first South African side to appoint co-captains when they announced that loose forward Tera Mtembu and centre Jeremy Ward will share the leadership responsibilities.
Commenting on the unprecedented move, Everitt explained: ‘We looked at the makeup of the squad and we were also looking at our theme – which is growth – for this Currie Cup campaign.
‘Last week we spoke about growing the squad and the individuals and bringing youngsters through and I thought this was a perfect opportunity going forward to develop a guy like Jeremy, who has shown outstanding leadership qualities. But just to take the pressure off him a little bit, we opted to let him share the responsibility with an experienced guy like Tera, who has been there before as Super Rugby and Currie Cup captain,’ said Everitt.
‘I thought it would be good for Jeremy to have someone to lean on. Obviously Tera is coming back from injury, so at times we are going to give Jeremy the reins to lead the team. So, the co-captaincy option is more to grow the overall leadership within the group than anything else.’
The 23-year-old Ward and 28-year-old Mtembu are good friends on and off the field and the former says he is excited to share this opportunity with Mtembu.
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‘It’s a huge responsibility I recognise and understand. But it’s 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 in the team. I don’t believe that you need a leadership title to be a leader in a team, so the challenge for all of us is to enhance leadership throughout the team,’ Ward said.
‘Tera and I plan on doing just that. In the end we want everyone to step up, especially the youngsters that are coming through, to empower them to play their natural game.’
Mtembu, who is making his long-awaited comeback from a serious injury, added that he is just grateful for the opportunity to play again and to add value to the team.
‘A couple of months ago I was thinking of retirement and did not see this coming,’ he admitted. ‘I’m grateful to get another opportunity to play. Credit must go to our management and coaching staff for giving me this opportunity, everyone played a role in getting me back to this point. I don’t know how long it is going to be for, but I’ll try to add value where I can and enjoy every single moment.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images