Two Union Sports Group players recently showed that the adage still holds true and that talented players will make it to the top.
Cameron Wright (20) and Thomas du Toit (19) both were named in the starting team for the Cell C Sharks visit to Kimberley. The Sharks held out a determined GWK Griquas side to record a 31-24 victory.
While Du Toit had made his debut for the Sharks in Super Rugby earlier in the year, Wright has walked a path different to his fellow first-year classmates at the Sharks Academy. A search on Google reveals there is a similarly named basketball player, currently turning out for the Pittsburgh Panthers in the NBA. While Cameron might not have the same length as his 1.98 meter namesake he certainly never backs down from a challenge. Being a year older than his Hilton College classmates meant he earned selection to the Craven Week in grade 11 but could not be considered in his Matric year. After being involved with the Sharks u19’s in grade 11 he was a regular in his Matric year, showing that he is one who makes the best of the opportunities before him.
At the beginning of 2014 he was involved with the UKZN Impi in the Varsity Shield competition and started in of the Impi’s eight regular season matches. After finishing in second place the Impi faced the CUT Ixias in the final but unfortunately they went down 35-26 and Cameron collected a runners-up medal for his efforts.
After the Varsity Shield Cameron was involved with the Sharks XV in the Vodacom Cup but his involvement was limited to being an unused substitute against the Golden Lions. Things changed dramatically for Cameron as the combination of departure of Charl McLeod, Springbok involvement for Cobus Reinach and injuries to to Conrad Hoffmann and Stefan Ungerer elevated him to the starting team for the Currie Cup opener.
His performance was described on the Sharksworld.co.za website as: “Given that he was on debut, the kid was outstanding. His crisp, sweet pass and fair turn of pace bode well for the future of the Sharks in this tricky position. Well played Cameron! 8/10 “
Cameron would hope to emulate Hentie Martens and Ryan Walker as old-Hiltonians who represented the Sharks with aplomb, and is well on his way in doing so.
Thomas is a product of the prestigous Paarl Boys’ High School and played age-group rugby for Western Province. He played for the Paarl Boys’ High School First XV for two years and captained the team in his matric year. After a strong showing at Craven Week, which included two tries, he was included in the SA Schools side. The side played against and beat England, France and Wales. After appearing from the bench against the English in Crawford (19-14) he started the second match in George (17-13) before being an unused replacement in Worcester (14-13).
He then joined the Sharks academy in 2014 and was a surprise inclusion in the Sharks Super Rugby squad. After making a try-scoring debut against the Border Bulldogs on 7 March as a substitute he earned his first start three weeks later in Bloemfontein when the Sharks XV faced the Free State XV.
Thomas was also included in the S.A. Under-20 side for the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship and started the final where SA went 21-20 against England. It is worth noting that he still is eligible for the team in 2015 when they will aim to go on better in Italy.
He made his Super Rugby debut as a 19-year old against the Cheetahs on July 5 and started against the Stormers in the final regular-season Super Rugby encounter for the Sharks. His best performance of the season was against the Highlanders in the Super Rugby Qualifier as he gave Chris King a thorough working over. The Sharks then unfortunately went down to the Crusaders in Christchurch the following week but Thomas had enhanced his reputation by an enormous extent. His selection for two vital games is a testament in the faith the Jake White has in the young powerhouse.
Both Cameron and Thomas will hope to use the Currie Cup as a platform to lay claims for involvement in next year’s edition of Super Rugby. But they will first and foremost want to help coach Brad Macleod-Henderson and their teammates lift the coveted trophy on 25 October.
Words by: Dorfling Terblanche