Sharks assistant coach Dick Muir says he has been “blown away’ by new wing Makazole Mapimpi, who has the potential to be one of the stars of the 2018 Super Rugby season.
Mapimpi moved to Durban from the Cheetahs last month, where he had been a try-scoring machine in both Super Rugby and the PRO14 competition.
He remains the leading try-scorer in the latter competition in 2017-18, despite having played his last match for the Free State side a month ago, and Muir cannot wait to see how he goes for the Sharks this season.
“I’ve been blown away by what he offers on the field,” Muir told the team’s website. “He’s just incredibly quick, his work rate and communication on the field have all been outstanding; he’s been great.
“He scored something like 28 tries last year and he’s already scored a few for us. If it wasn’t for the whistle, he would probably have scored a few more.”
Mapimpi is likely to make his competitive debut for the Sharks when they travel to the Lions for their Super Rugby opener on Saturday, and Muir says there will not be much to choose between the backlines against the side who have finished runners-up in the last two years.
“It will be much of a muchness as far as backline strengths go, but overall we don’t know where they are at in their campaign as far as their warm-up games go.
“We’ve had a few already and it all comes down to what happens on Saturday. It’s going to be a great challenge.
“The guys have been itching to play and with training being so hard, in the heat and humidity, hopefully with the lack of humidity, the ball won’t be slippery in Joburg. We’re looking forward to playing in those drier conditions.”
Muir adds that increased competition in Durban this season will hopefully spur them on.
“It’s nice to have the competition for places, there is competition in every position. It’s really hard luck for the guys who don’t get selected,” he said.
“We might be a bit short on the experience side, but as far as enthusiasm goes, there’s an abundance there.”
And the former Bok assistant coach believes the side have done just about as much as they can to be ready for the new Super Rugby season.
“You always feel that if you had more time you could have done a little bit more, but I think from a conditioning perspective the guys have done well.
“From a skills perspective they’ve put in the hard work and it’s now getting the balance right on the field.
“You can get overly excited and end up playing too much rugby in your own half, but the guys are excited to get the competition going.”