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A new winning streak


Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 27 Jun 2013 at 08:00
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , ,

The Sharks are all but assured of not qualifying for the play-offs of this year’s Super Rugby campaign, a campaign that many a pundit, including myself, believed would be the year for the men from Durban. Going into the last three matches, which are all rather pointless in the bigger scheme of things, what would we like to see from our players?

Firstly, we are already without our coach John Plumtree, but our captain looks set to remain in charge until a new coach takes over the Currie Cup squad. I am not for one minute suggesting that Daniel will not be Currie Cup captain, but a new coach is likely to want to stamp his authority on the team.

While Keegan Daniel has been an average Super Rugby captain this year, his form and captaincy during the 2012 campaign was great, leading from front and taking the team all the way to the final. This year though, things have been vastly different for Keegan, who has had to struggle through bad results from the team as well as having a media storm about some Afrikaans comments he made. I would understand that most people would like to see Keegan take the rest of the tournament off to get into the right frame of mind, but playing in three matches where the results don’t matter that much, it could be ideal for our captain to regain some form and become the player that made his Springbok debut last year, something we all wanted to see last year.

Three good matches from our captain, where he leads from the front and plays to the form we know he is capable of, would be great not only for the team as a whole, but could see our men gain some confidence and form going into the Currie Cup tournament. Daniel could well be the captain of that squad, and I’d rather see him in form than see him continue to struggle as he has been.

With Wiehahn Herbst out injured, and Bismarck du Plessis in line to make his first Sharks start of the year, we are set to see our strongest front row being selected against the Blues this weekend. Although I would have preferred Jannie to take a bit of a break, I am looking forward to see whether our first choice font row can wreck some havoc. Jannie has a tough Rugby Championship campaign awaiting him later in the year, and while I would suggest him to play only 40 minutes at a time, not having the ever reliable Wiehahn Herbst on the bench is a slight problem.

Staying in the pack, the Sharks are dangerously close to having a second row meltdown, having saved face with the recruiting of Edwin Hewitt. Hewitt had a good first start for the Sharks against the Lions, but it would be interesting to see how he fares against much tougher opposition. The Blues are notorious for having some of the best second rowers in the world, and it is a great platform to test oneself. His combination with Franco van der Merwe is short term in nature, with Franco returning to the Lions in a few weeks’ time, so he could well cement his spot with a few good performances.

There are plenty of loose forwards to choose from for this weekend’s encounter, and while Ryan Kankowski is available, it is unlikely that we will see him ahead of Daniel. This is unfortunate as I would have loved to see Kankowski prove his worth and make a bid for that Springbok eighthman position. Kankowski is available to the Springboks for the Rugby Championship, even though he is busy in Japan, and could well cement his spot in the national side with good performances against Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. That would require him to prove his fitness and his form in Super Rugby and we can only hope that he gets a chance.

We have seen plenty of reports about the dire situation in Sharks midfield, with calls for Pat Lambie to be shifted to inside centre ridiculous. I would love for Lambie to take control of the Sharks backline and play with the flare we know he has within him. He is unlikely to unseat Morne Steyn trying to play like him, so show Heyneke Meyer another type of flyhalf and be the best. This would require a good feed from Charl McLeod, but also the buy-in from the players outside him, whoever they may be.

Lastly, Louis Ludik is back from injury, having had a great two seasons for the Sharks. Willie le Roux has shown that good form could well be rewarded with a national call up, and while he is unlikely to unseat a new national favourite, there is nothing stopping him from getting that second fullback spot in the Springbok squad.

So yes, these three games might not be worth much in the Super Rugby scheme of things, but for each individual there is a different reason to go out there and do their utmost best, whether it is to play themselves into form, continue in great form or even just to prove a point. Each game could be the start of a winning streak.



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