Sharks coach John Plumtree says that he has never felt pressure to load his team with players of colour, and warned that fast-tracking can harm the development of promising young players.
The issue of racial quotas in South African rugby has come under the spotlight once again, with everyone from passers-by to parliamentarians weighing in on the topic lately.
The Sharks' kiwi mentor became the latest to add his opinion when he was quizzed on his approach to selection, and he was refreshingly forthright in offering his views.
Plumtree revealed: "I've always picked on merit, it's never really been a problem in Durban because we've always had such excellent black players. It's a double-edged sword, you put a young guy of colour and he's not good enough and that could be the end of his career if he doesn't play well, it's hard for him.
"It's an unfortunate thing, so you have to be careful with any player, regardless of colour, at this level. He's got to be good enough, otherwise it can be a frustrating experience for him, and for everyone else," he added.
Plumtree explained that in his view player development should not be restricted according to race and pointed out that the Sharks have managed to produce a number of black Springbok players using this approach.
He said: "At the end of the day, this is a team game, it's not about any individual. We're committed to developing players of all colours at the union and certainly we have some great black players. Quite a few of them involved with the Springboks.
"If you look at the way Lwazi Mvovo has played over the last couple of years, how his development has come on and where he is at the moment, he's an outstanding player. JP Pietersen has kicked on and how the Ndunganes have played in South African rugby and won with us. It's something that I'm definitely committed to," added the Sharks boss.
The latest promising young Sharks talent, Sibusiso Sithole, has exploded onto the Currie Cup scene this year after catching the eye with a dramatic late try to clinch victory for the South African Sevens team at Twickenham earlier this year.
Sithole is the latest young player to shine for the Sharks after coming off the production line of talent that is the rugby heartland of the Eastern Cape and Plumtree sees great things for him in the future.
The Sharks coach commented: "Sibusiso Sithole is an outstanding footballer and will be outstanding for the Sharks in years to come. He's a fantastic young player. We also have one or two coming up through the age groups and I will develop another youngster pretty soon.
"It's something on my mind but I'm also conscious of the fact that it's very important that every player is picked when they are ready and have confidence to perform at that level.
"What I did with Sithole was that he sat on the bench for a couple of games, got used to our style, I gave him an opportunity and he played pretty well because he went into the game feeling confident about himself, and that's important," Plumtree explained.
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