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Written by Mike Marnewick (FlashFulstrip)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 20 Jul 2008 at 11:03
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

Having taken note of some comments, and having taken a step backwards and given time for the loss to sink in, and then get over it, I thought it would be a good idea to look at the current set-up and try to find some reasoning behind the Sharks lack of success (if you can call 60% wins unsuccessful), and came up with a few areas I think we need to take note of.Personnel: Someone like Jannie du Plessis should be offering a lot more and I find myself hugely disappointed in his lack of impact, as a Springbok and a member of the successful Cheetahs side that won 3 Currie Cup finals. That’s one player and just an example, although he’s one of many. I think it is time to start jettisoning some players. Stefan Terblanche has long been a favourite of mine, but he has overstayed his welcome. He used to be the best player of the high ball in South Africa. Yesterday he launched (yet another) high ball, chased it and ran past the opposition catcher without A. trying to regather or B. put the player under pressure. Our wings have been totally left out of the cold all season because he either kicks high balls or tries to run through three players.

Henno Mentz offers absolutely nothing to the team and if he was indeed dropped for Wes Bodmer to try wake him up, it didn’t work. Plum, please drop him back to Club rugby, pay off his contract and look to the future. This guy is dead-weight. Waylon Murray either needs a rest or a wake-up call. He’s a classy player, but it’s deserted him right now. Give him a break.

Injuries: This has obviously been out of everyone’s control, although rushing Brad Barritt back for the Valke game was in my mind a very inadvisable act that back-fired. He needs time to get his body back in shape and he’s too important to risk long term injury. We’ve also been hard-hit without Rory Kockott and Jean Deysel. Pat Cilliers could also light a fire under Jannie’s butt to show that there is competition for places.

Springboks: It doesn’t help having lost so many players to the Bok cause – compared to the Lions and Cheetahs, we’re really disrupted and again this is no-one’s fault and planning for this eventuality perhaps rests on Straeuli’s shoulders, or the coaching staff. To the latters’ credit, Chris Jordaan has been a revelation and my sincere hope is that they stick with him. I believe he is a fullback at club level, and so why not give Stefan a break and try him there. Especially when we get Odwa and JP back. But there aren’t world class players hanging around waiting to get snapped up by a Union who needs players.Coaching staff: There has been some talk about the quality of our coaching staff and their inability to get the best out of their players. Our backs are not breaking the line and they are not scoring tries. I believe this comes down more to the quality of player we have than how they are coached. We are missing Barritt, that’s glaringly obvious. Michalak did nothing special against the Cheetahs, and Dumond has been ordinary. Again, this cannot be blamed on the coaching staff. Andries Strauss is good without being spectacular and we’ve seen how Waylon Murray won’t pass and only runs cross-field. My feeling here is that another youngster in Riaan Swanepoel needs to be given an extended run at outside centre; he’s big strong and pretty fast. Even if that means we have to put Waylon on the wing.Forwards: despite scoring most of the tries, they are not operating as they should. An effective side is filled with individuals who do their jobs. I have seen too many front row forwards on the wing and inside backs cleaning out at rucks – this is not how rugby should be played, and I fail to understand if this is what the coaches are trying to do – create versatile players – or the players simply doing their own thing.Finally, for me the greatest issue – Leadership. Sadly, experience does not necessarily equate into leaders, and of the latter, we have none. Experience we have aplenty – Muller, Botes, du Plessis, van den Berg, Michalak, Terblanche, but none of them seems to be leading the side. Barritt is too quiet, although a wise player, and I think many of our problems rest on the shoulders of an issue that we have no real control over.

Until we get our Boks back and have class and experience (and leadership) back, we cannot simply keep plodding along, winning the easy games and losing the tough ones. A champion side would have won yesterday and until we have the manpower, we cannot hope to get into the position of a home semi/final with the current side.

In conclusion, I think the time is ripe, right now, to make some drastic and changes. Drop the deadwood, give the youngsters a chance, don’t overplay your stars or play too early those returning from injury. And the players need to take ownership. They are responsible to the coaches to show pride for the honour that has been bestowed on them. They need to show hunger for the game and the result. John Plumtree – be brave, please.

As a postscript, I see Rob has also put up a poll which seems to cover similar sentiments as the above.


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