1 August 2014
Loose-forward Tera Mtembu will be the first black South African to lead the Sharks after the rugby union franchise appointed him captain for the 2014 Currie Cup, South Africa’s premier domestic rugby competition, earlier this week.
Tuesday’s announcement was welcomed by the African National Congress (ANC) as “a commendable step towards the transformation of sport in South Africa.
“It is decisions like the one that has been taken by the Sharks that bring hope that one day South Africa will have a completely transformed sport that make every South African proud,” the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary, Sihle Zikalala, said in a statement.
Mtembu, aged just 23, worked his way through the ranks at the Sharks Academy and made his debut for the team in both Vodacom Super Rugby and the Absa Currie Cup in 2012.
The Sharks are the reigning Absa Currie Cup champions; they beat Western Province 33-19 in the 2013 final. They were also the best South African performer in the latest edition of the southern hemisphere Super Rugby competition, reaching the semi-finals before succumbing to New Zealand outfit the Crusaders.
‘I have great faith in his ability’
Sharks director of rugby Jake White said Tera “is a talented player and I have great faith in his ability. My hope is that he embraces this leadership role and gains valuable experience as the tournament progresses, which will assist us in grooming him to take the next step into becoming a more consistent Super Rugby player who can eventually stake a claim for international honours.”
Brad Macleod-Henderson, the Sharks’ Currie Cup coach, said: “Tera is an outstanding and intelligent player with a bright future ahead of him. He will do a fantastic job and I look forward to working with him during the Absa Currie Cup campaign.”
Sharks CEO and former Springbok captain John Smit also welcomed Mtembu’s appointment, saying: “I believe that he has the talent and perseverance to become a great player.
“He becomes the 72nd player to be given the honour of captaining a Cell C Sharks team and, more impressively for him, the first black player to do so.
“This is an incredible achievement for a gifted player who has many years of rugby ahead of him and this responsibility will certainly motivate him to strive for greater heights in his career.”
Another former Springbok and Sharks’ captain, Gary Teichmann, said he believed Mtembu had what it takes to be a good leader. “On the rare occasions that I have interacted with Tera, I have been impressed with his confidence and approach to life and this will certainly stand him in good stead as a leader,” Teichmann reckoned.
“I wish him well on his appointment and the campaign ahead.”
Mtembu, for his part, thanked the Sharks management and coaching staff “for believing in me and for affording me this opportunity.
“I look forward to the challenge ahead and know that I will have the support and backing of our coaching staff, younger players and the senior group of players in our squad.”