Perhaps a week or two late, as it seemed to slip under the radar that we haven’t acknowledged yet another Kings Academy product to be selected for our senior Super Rugby side. My sincerest apologies to Shane, the Gates clan and the Kings Supporters base at large. That of course doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t make amends.
The 1st time i saw Shane Gates play was for Muir College against Queen’s College (my Alma Mater) in June 2009, not the biggest fellow at 1st glance, but nothing could have prepared me for what followed. Queen’s won that game comfortably, but Shane however left a lasting impression on that day, if not with the entire arena, then most certainly with me.
It’s safe to say, I’ve been a member of the fan club ever since that afternoon. I even remember after the announcement last year August, asking a mate of mine who lives in Port Elizabeth if Shane Gates was ready to lead our campaign in the no.10 jersey. His reply of course was that Shane needed more time to mature.
The Muir College old boy is a gifted flyhalf who is an Eastern Province boy through and through. Having represented them at school and in his junior years with the Academy. He’s got all the makings of a great flyhalf, good awareness, booming boot, great vision, brilliant distribution and solid decision making. He is also comfortable at 12 but it is at 10 where he comes into his own. He’s matured a great deal since his arrival at the Kings, he’s grown with the seniors over the past 2 years, and this year marked a 3rd Vodacom Cup campaign at the tender age of 21.
One of the big disappointments came last year as he wasn’t invited to the Baby Bok camp even after 1st choice pivot Johan Goosen was injured; it was perhaps the actions of a flawed selection system. As any young player would do, he got up and moved on after that disappointment and enjoyed a fantastic Currie Cup campaign where he was utilised in both the senior and u21 ranks. He relished the opportunity to spearhead the Vodacom Cup campaign at pivot and it was his eye catching performances in the Vodacom Cup this year that eventually prompted the senior coaching staff to call him up for a taste of Super Rugby.
He came off the bench against the Highlanders two weeks ago to make an earlier than expected debut as Andries Strauss had to go off with an injury in the 1st half. The performance was promising and mature, reflective of a player who’d been given time in the structures and grown into a player ready to take on much bigger stages.
Shane Gates’ promising start to his Super Rugby career bodes well for the Kings and hopefully he’ll be given more time on the park in order to decrease the workload of Demetri Catrakilis and Andries Strauss in the seasons to come as he grows into the Super Rugby competition. Well done to Shane and to Robbie Kempson and his team, we take our hats off to you once again. Keep up the good work.