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Keeping it steady


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 25 Sep 2014 at 13:57
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

There’s really not all that much to debate from a selection point of view this week, since the Sharks opted to make hardly any changes for the match against the Kings.

Let’s look at a few aspects all the same.

The tight five
I wasn’t impressed with the first-half display from the tights at Loftus, although they recovered well enough in the second period. I felt that Chadwick and Astle, in particular, went missing in a big way during a half when only the Bulls’ own inability to score kept them out – so rampant were they otherwise. The Sharks are a little short of options at the moment, though, what with Thomas du Toit and Wiehan Hay both still injured. Astle needs to prove this week that he’s able to step up his intensity and physicality in order to really do that number 4 jersey justice. As for the rest (Chadwick included), there’s a big turnaround needed at scrum time, but I’m happy that tight five has been kept intact.

Khaya Majola
He’s the only new man in the picture this week and with absolutely zero disrespect intended, we know that he’s been selected because Botes’s injury has forced the coaches’ hands. As the next man in line, I’m comfortable that he’ll step up and do a good job; who knows, we might even discover a rising star in the process. Botes (and Odwa Ndugane) really do comprise the experienced spine of the team, though, and with both gone, we’re short of nearly 250 caps’ worth of experience. Those are some big boots to fill for Khaya, but he’s got age group pedigree, at least, to fall back on. I’m pleased that the Sharks have opted to replace like for like, rather than attempting a reshuffle that would have brought Johan Meyer in at the expense of loose trio balance.

Outside centre
Let’s cut right to the chase; I’m happy enough that the backline has been retained en masse from last week, but I remain concerned about Paul Jordaan at outside centre. That might seem an odd thing to say, given that he started the year as first choice in that position at Super Rugby level and even cracked a Bok squad invite, but his performance at Loftus we poor in comparison to his teammates’ and to my mind doesn’t add real threat on attack, due to his tendency to run strange lines (and not pass). It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Sithole at 13 and while I do applaud the continuity, I’d have been very tempted to bring the former Queenian into center, while letting Jordaan play an impact role off the bench. I understand why the coaches have left well enough alone, though and I’m sure Jordaan will do better this week.

The bench
There’s not a lot of change. Conrad Hoffmann is fit again and it makes sense for him to replace Hanco Venter; Stefan Ungerer will be out of action again for some weeks with concussion and the under 21 side will need Venter. Hoffmann only missed out last week due to a late injury and deserves another opportunity to build on his very good match against the Cheetahs. Having Stephan Lewies there adds hugely to my confidence level too; Johan Meyer is not a lock and even though the plan would always be to use him at flank rather (with Oosthuizen moving in) you cannot overstate the value of having a genuine lock on the bench.



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