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Jake White’s style

Written by Chris Smith (ChrisS)

Posted in :Original Content, Reader Submissions, Sharks, Super Rugby on 17 Jan 2014 at 12:03
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

“The only fetcher I need is my son when I ask him to fetch me a beer from the fridge.”

This was Jake White’s comment when asked about why he favours three big loose forwards without a recognised “fetcher” flank (eg. Richie McCaw, Heinrich Brussouw) in the mix during his tenure as Bok Coach. Fast forward to 2013 and the same man has brought back one George Smith from Japan to help the Brumbies to the final of the Super XV. This shows that even a legendary coach can learn a thing or two and can change his mind! I’m hoping that he brings this attitude with him to Super XV 2014 in terms of how the Sharks will play.

During the last few years of Super Rugby the Sharks have adopted a strategy based around having big forwards taking crash ball which was one-dimensional and predictable. Pop to Bismarck (who is standing still) and he gets gang-tackled by 3 players, recycle the ball and pop to Marcell (who is standing still) and he also gets gang-tackled by 3 players etc. etc. Only once Brendan Venter got involved did we see a return to traditional Sharks rugby with play happening off the flyhalf, forwards running onto the ball, offloads in the tackle and the backline using pace and guile to score some amazing tries.

The style of play we used was very similar to what the Brumbies did during Super XV last year and I am hoping that Jake White will employ a similar style of play. Quick offloads in the tackle to shift the ball away from the contact points, aggressive rucking and counter-rucking, players running onto the ball from depth, a flyhalf with the freedom to play the game in front of him instead of kicking everything away….AND a master poacher, a la George Smith, who will pilfer opposition ball and ensure that Charl McLeod and Cobus Reinach get quality ball when we’re on attack. The Sharks have the players and skill set to play to this gameplan but the question is will they? Only time will tell!

In terms of our rotation policy we can prolong the careers of Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee and Jean Deysel by rotating them bi-weekly as our blindsiders. Ryan Kankowski and Tera Mtembu can alternate at eighthman with Marcell providing cover there (I feel that eighthman might be his best position) and Keegan Daniel, Jacque Botes and Francois Kleinhans can serve as openside options.

Of the three, I think that Francois has the most ability in terms of genuine “fetching” but Jacques still has plenty to offer in terms of fulfilling that role. Keegan is the quickest but his technique at the breakdown requires some work before he can be considered a genuine “fetcher”.

Here’s hoping that we see a dynamic, free-running style of play from Jake and our beloved Sharks and a trophy in our cabinet at the end of the competition!


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