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VIDEO: 'He hasn't reached anywhere near his ceiling yet'

Siyabonga Masuku drew high praise from pundits and coaches alike after his match-winning performance in the Sharks’ come-from-behind 32-31 win over Clermont Auvergne – to become the first South African team to appear in a European Professional Club Rugby Final.

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Masuku landed a touchline conversion in the final 10 minutes to secure the win – contributing 22 points from six penalties and two conversions

It was a win that had shades of South Africa’s successful World Cup campaign – resilience unbounded, with the international players coming to the fore when it mattered most and winning the key moments.

They now head to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium where they will face Gloucester in the Challenge Cup Final on May 24.

However, the true star was Masuku, who showed all the attributes Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus demands from a player – calmness under pressure, slotting the match-winner from the touchline like a seasoned professional and putting his body on the line for the team.

He was – in the Bok coach’s words – a true warrior.

It was not just his assured goalking that showed his qualities.

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Masuku made 14 carries for 40 metres, completed 14 tackles and eight kicks out of hand in a Man of the Match performance.

Sharks coach John Plumtree suggested the 27-year-old could raise the bar much higher.

“Siya’s a lovely story, isn’t he?” Plumtree said quizzically.

“He’s played well on the big stage now,” the coach added.

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“I’m just really happy for him.

“He’s a very humble character.

“He feels very honoured to be playing in this jersey and making the most of his opportunities.”

Born in Paulpietersburg, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Masuku was schooled at Piet Retief High.

Before joining the Sharks this season, he had stints with the Lions, Leopards, Southern Kings and Cheetahs.

While a regular starting spot was hard to come by, he appears to have moved up the No.10 in the pecking order in Durban and now commands a regular starting spot.

(WATCH as Sharks coach John Plumtree gives his verdict on rising star, flyhalf Siyabonga Masuku….)

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“He’s still going to get better,” Plumtree told @rugby36t5com – when asked if he has shades of Springbok Henry Honiball in his make-up.

“His skill set can improve, his passing can improve and he can improve as an athlete,” the coach added.

“He hasn’t reached anywhere near his ceiling yet.

“He’s a confident little player.

“His kicking is great.

“When he goes for touch, he doesn’t just try for 30 metres, he looks for 40 metres.

“I love his attitude around the game and the players like him.

“He is riding the crest of the wave at the moment.”

Even though he moved to Durban from the Cheetahs in the off-season last year, Masuku only made his Sharks debut in February.

The Sharks will return to Durban for back-to-back United Rugby Championship home games against Benetton and Cardiff, before travelling to London for the Challenge Cup Final.

@king365ed
@rugby365com

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