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Give Stef a break

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 5 Oct 2011 at 07:00
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

We’ve been pretty hard on the veteran, Oom Stefan Terblanche, over the last few weeks, what with a string of recent performances that fall somewhat short of the high standards he has set himself over a glittering career. I think it’s time we give him a break. Literally.

Here’s an interesting statistic, in this era of “player burnout” and “management”… guess how many games Stefan started for the Sharks during this year’s Super Rugby competition? 17 you say? Spot on. That, coincidentally, is the same number of games that the Sharks played this year. In 12 of those games, Stef played out the entire match, without being substituted off. That’s a hell of a lot of rugby for a 36-year-old to cope with, not just physically, but also mentally.

Fast forward to the Currie Cup and we see that, surprise surprise, Terblanche has again started all bar one of the Sharks matches, having been benched for the Leopards’ visit to Kings Park. Staying with the trend, he was kept on the field for the full 80 in all but two of his starting appearances, meaning that in total, he has played 21 full games already this season and has played some part in 8 others. I’ll repeat, that’s a hell of a lot of rugby for a 36-year-old to cope with.

The problem with Stef, if you will, is the fact that he’s physically still in such supremely good shape. The guy, simply put, is in such amazing condition, all the time, that he seemingly doesn’t feel the rigours of the game the way others do and is able to keep truckin’ on, game after game, without ever getting injured. THAT, I feel, is a hugely successful blueprint and one that he could and should pass on to younger players as an example to follow if they seek longevity in their careers. There’s a double edge to this cutting implement, however, in that because Stef’s body never needs a rest, he is never given the opportunity for his mind to rest. Simply put, I feel that Stefan’s poor form of late can in a large part be ascribed to sheer mental exhaustion, as a result of simply playing too much rugby this season.

This weekend’s outing against the Leopards, I feel, hands the Sharks the perfect opportunity to kill a handful of birds with the same stone. They can – and really should – leave Stefan out entirely this week and give him the rest that he needs. This will allow them not only to assess the suitability of Gouws Prinsloo for big rugby (let’s face it, the kid deserves a shot!) but also ascertain exactly how capable a captain Keegan Daniel can be without the elder statesman around to guide – and occasionally eclipse – his leadership. The fact that the Sharks under 21 side managed to whack the Leopards by 60 points last time out tends to suggest, also, that losing Prinsloo for this game is hardly likely to completely derail their campaign, especially given that Jaco van Tonder is a perfectly capable option in the number 15 jersey too.

So my call to Sharks fans and management alike is this: give Stef a break! The old boy clearly needs it.


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