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Got to keep Pienaar – simply have to

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 19 Apr 2010 at 15:46
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

There’ve been a few developments on the player front over the last week that we probably need to spend some more time discussing. Deon Carstens has confirmed that he will leave after the Super 14, but it’s yet another round of halfback developments that cause me the most concern.

That’s not to say that Carstens isn’t a fantastic player or that he won’t be missed; far from it, in fact. The likeable prop has amassed a truly staggering number of Sharks caps since starting his senior career back in the early 2000s and has has successfully reinvented himself a number of times since then – always based on what the team needed most. Right now, while unfortunately somewhat injury-prone, he’s an incredibly useful option on either side of the scrum and can play the role of either starting, or impact, prop when required. The current surplus of front-row talent in the Sharks setup makes it easy to overlook the value that a Carstens brings to the squad, but his particular value always seems to come to the fore when the other lads are away on Bok duty and we need an experienced campaigner to shore things up.

It’s perfectly understandable, though, that the big fella would choose this point to call time on his Sharks career, since he’s not getting regular starting team action and is also not getting any younger. Having recently got married, it’s about time Deon started looking at lining his pockets a bit and let’s hope that the move to Sarries works out well for him. He’ll be missed, along with Johann Muller, but the Sharks will need to use this opportunity to blood some of the promising young tight forwards coming through the junior ranks. Wiehahn Herbst and Pat Cilliers are our future stars and it’s these guys who will need to step up in the Currie Cup and fill the enormous set of boots that Carstens is vacating. Cheers, Speenvark and best of luck for the future. You’re a legend and we appreciate everything you’ve done for us!

Looking to the latest Ruan Pienaar rumour, though, there is definitely cause for concern. Once again, it’s a case of he-said, she-said here, with the Irish papers reporting a move to Ulster as a done deal, while the Pienaar camp (in the form of his father Gysie) denies that anything is on the cards. Now while I can definitely see this one from both sides, there’s only one real way to look at this, from my point of view: Ruan Pienaar is playing superb rugby at scrumhalf for the Sharks and our backline, while still far from setting the world alight, simply looks twice as good with him at nine than it does with anyone else there. Retaining his services are an absolute must for the Sharks, as together with Patrick Lambie, he needs to form the nucleus of the backline to take us forward in 2011.

The flyhalf position remains undecided as ever, with yet another journeyman in Sias Ebersohn somewhat unreliably linked with a moved to Durban. Guy Cronje should be fit to play in the  Currie Cup as well and with a number of other possibles emerging from the club scene as well, the opportunity is really wide open for a youngster to stick his hand up in that competition and show that he’s the man to wear the jersey in the inaugural Super 15. With an ample supply of good ball from Pienaar and the rapidly developing and the infinitely-reliable Riaan Swanepoel on the other side, the prospect of developing a young flyhalf might not seem so daunting after all.

Let Pienaar leave, though and we’re starting completely from scratch in both halfback positions.


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