BENEDICT CHANAKIRA expects these players to make a big impact at this year’s U18 Craven Week.
Phendulani Buthelezi (KwaZulu-Natal No 8)
The Durban High School head boy has had another inspired season, being selected for Craven Week and receiving a Sharks contract from 2018. He is a key part of the DHS machine that claimed wins over Maritzburg College, Jeppe, Kearsney and Glenwood. Having played for KZN at last year’s Craven Week, the 95kg youngster will be looking to offer not just experience and leadership, but energy, grunt and flair. Known as ‘Pepsi’, the dynamic loose forward is skilful, fast and has the ability to make an impact in the tight and loose. At 1.88m, Buthelezi is a defensive lineout threat and can also be a breakdown menace.
Sanele Nohamba (KwaZulu-Natal scrumhalf)
Nohamba plays like Morgan Parra, the French No 9. His Man of the Match performance against Maritzburg College set up a memorable win on Goldstones as he claimed a personal haul of 23 points, which included six conversions, two penalties and a try. Sanele will link up with the Sharks, ensuring that he is developed in KwaZulu-Natal for the next few years. He has an array of skills, an impressive goal-kicking return, big-match temperament and superb tactical nous for an 18-year-old. He is a raw talent that could develop into an asset for South African rugby.
Adam Mountford (Border No 8)
Mountford is an abrasive forward and one of 11 Selbourne College players in the Border Craven Week side. He produced a top-quality performance in a famous win against Grey College in May. The burly No 8 carried and defended with aplomb, while linking up with the forwards and backs, as he has done all season. Moments before the winning try he took it upon himself to take the team forward in search of victory. He has a high work rate and looks set to be the chief ball-carrier for Border U18.
Vusile Dlepu (Western Province scrumhalf)
The SACS captain will lead WP at Craven Week as he looks to stake a claim for SA Schools selection. Dlepu has had a superb season in a special year for his SACS team. He represented WP at the U16 Grant Khomo Week and last year’s U18 Craven Week, and also played for the SA U17 Sevens in 2017. The Blitzboks Academy and several unions will no doubt be keeping an eye on the talented No 9, who has a crisp pass and plays a fast, instinctive game. His strengths lie in broken, open play and he is able to pick out a pass, like Faf de Klerk. One wrong foot and Dlepu will punish you. Already part of the U18 High Performance camp earlier this season, big things are expected of the nippy halfback, who is sure to light up Craven Week as part of a talented WP backline.
Maritz Ulrich (Blue Bulls flyhalf)
The Waterkloof playmaker will be tasked with restoring the Blue Bulls’ battered reputation at Craven Week. He has a great turn of pace, good stepping skills, vision and brings confidence to his teammates. Selected to orchestrate the Bulls’ Craven Week march, Ulrich will need to show what he has in his arsenal in a bid to push for SA Schools selection. A tight clash against Stellenberg earlier in the season saw Waterkloof trail by two points in the last play of the game. Ulrich received the ball in his 22, spotted a mismatch, broke the tackle and started looking for options on either side before passing to a teammate. The play led to another linebreak and eventually a try. The talented pivot had created something out of nothing to secure victory.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images