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What a PROPer mess


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super 14 on 29 Jan 2010 at 13:54
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , ,

What’s going on with our props? How much longer are we going to bugger around playing guys out of position? It’s really starting to get a little ridiculous now; the front row is meant to be a real strength of the Sharks and it’s rapidly turning into a glaring weakness.

To me, the problem here is all about accommodating people (and dare I say their egos), rather than simply selecting the best guy in each position. John Smit is taking shots left, right and centre as a result of his poor showing at tighthead on Tuesday night and he has once again been asked to wear the number 3 jersey this evening. Jannie du Plessis has now been shoehorned into the number 1 jersey, a strange move to say the least. Is this perhaps just a pre-season experiment, allowing John Plumtree to assess whether du Plessis is a reasonable loosehead option? Why would that be necessary when we have two other Bok looseheads, Beast Mtawarira and Deon Carstens, already in the squad, along with Pat Cilliers who has at least looked the part in the number 1 jersey in the past?

Or has Jannie now been thrown into the starting team at the behest of his brother, in an all-too-typical “pick us both or else” ultimatum?

The Sharks need to just slow right down here and get back to the basics of the game. Too many political shenanigans seem to be clouding their reasoning. Point 1 is that Smit is the captain. He is the Bok captain and the best skipper currently playing the game. As such, he is de facto the right choice to be captain of the Sharks. And your captain must be in your starting team. All of this is fine so far, but I’ll go one further. If your captain’s best position is hooker – and John’s clearly is – then that’s where he should be played, end of discussion. Any other debates around secret contract clauses or threats to go overseas are actually of secondary importance to the best interests of the team. Smit must start the important games at hooker and Bismarck must do whatever he needs to do, given that decision.

Now that we have that sorted out, we can pick our best tighthead at 3 and rest assured that our scrum will have the strong foundation it needs. We are actually pretty blessed here in that Smit’s huge strength as a scrummaging hooker tends to make any number 3 look pretty good. Remember how well he did holding Eddie Andrews up? Right now, Jannie du Plessis is arguably our best tighthead and should play, but if he doesn’t feel that he can contribute without his brother to hold his hand, he must please go somewhere else and let us make another plan. I’d far rather have Wiehahn Herbst or even Pat Cilliers fully focused and committed, with Smit there to guide them every step of the way, than a disinterested Jannie du Plessis.

Loosehead then become a complete formality, with Beast starting and Deon Carstens providing able utility cover off the bench. If Bismarck does decide to part ways, then Craig Burden can enjoy a full Super 14 learning the ropes at the hands of the master, while introducing his own particular brand of dynamism in the second half.

We’ve got to stop this nonsense now, before it destroys our season. You can’t win games without a functioning engine room and when you have guys played out of position in the front row, the whole pack ends up on the back foot. With the backs we’ve got available this year, the last thing we can afford is for our pack to be anything other than completely dominant.

Come on, Plum. Show us the way.



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