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Ripening of the Putt vintage

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 16 Mar 2012 at 09:55
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

Dear old Kevin Putt certainly doesn’t get credit for much these days; the Kiwi scrumhalf is generally regarded, in the minds of the Sharks fans, to have presided over just about the worst-ever period in our history since the dark days of the pre-1990s.

One thing in particular that Putt didn’t do all that well, according to the consensus, was spot talent, with a slew of players brought into the Sharks that many felt were nowhere near good enough to pull on the hallowed black and white jersey. This “no-name brand” culture came to a head at the start of the 2005 season, when Putt initiated a bit of a clean out and tossed a number of non-performing stalwarts in favour of a fresh new breed. 13 player were signed at the start of that year and the feeling amongst Sharks fans was one of outrage, since hardly any of the players in question could be considered big names.

Most, of course, sank without trace, including the likes of the previously-unknown Jacques Schutte, Braam Immelman, Tshepo Kokoali and Callie Wannenberg, whom few but the most devout of Sharks supporters would have any memory of whatsoever. A few others stuck around a bit longer, having come in with slightly more pedigree, but ultimately there wasn’t a huge amount of value extracted out of Jaco Gouws, Dean Hall, Gcobani Bobo, Danie Saayman or Skipper Badenhorst either. Ruan Pienaar, of course, went on to do great things and delivered his pound of flesh to the Sharks, but sadly moved on a year or two back to reinvent himself in Ireland.

That accounts for 10 of the 13, so who are the last three? Well, it might be surprising for some, but in-amongst all the chaff, our mate Puttie, whether by accident or design, did manage to scout three players who have since gone on to become legends in the black and white and are currently the most experienced in the side. Bismarck du Plessis, Jacques Botes and Odwa Ndungane were the last three players bought by Putt in 2005 and my view is that it was well worth sorting through the other 10 to get these three!

It’s interesting to note, while looking at these sort of things, that imported players (strangely enough) don’t stick around, while home-grown ones, by and large, do. Looking at the crop brought in by Putt’s successor, Dick Muir, we see that only three imports, Jannie du Plessis, Jean Deysel and Charl McLeod, are still with the team four years on, whereas the players forming the mainstay of the team now are the juniors that Muir brought through. JP Pietersen, Keegan Daniel, Beast Mtawarira, Steven Sykes, Ryan Kankowski, Alistair Hargreaves and Craig Burden all came through the Sharks Academy structures under Muir and it is very pleasing to see that work continuing under John Plumtree, with seven other Sharks-developed players now in the senior squad.


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