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Xerox Golden Lions 10 10 48
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A little hasty, perhaps?

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 29 Sep 2014 at 16:40
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

The challenge in doing player reviews – well-meaning though they may be – is that it’s not always possible to see everything in one viewing of a game, or to get every assessment spot on.

I had a request today from a respected friend to maybe have another look at the Sharks game against the Kings, in case I’d done a disservice to any of the players. Again, the backdrop here was a very good overall performance where the team scored 7 tries and 50 points, so perhaps not really the best week in which to be too critical. I complied withe the request and had a look at Johan Meyer’s game in particular.

Looking back at my rating, it wasn’t completely fair on the player. I should have limited the scope of what I said to just Saturday’s game, so accusing him of “not stepping up” when he’s in fact not really had much of an opportunity to do so, wasn’t a reasonable thing to say; I should have only looked at what he did on Saturday.

Johan is a blindside flank or number 8 by trade. This is the reason he was not picked to start as replacement for open sider Jacques Botes and also the reason that I found it rather strange that he was sent on to replace Khaya Majola, the only specialist open side in the squad, 54 minutes into the contest. I would have thought that Meyer would have come on for one of the other loose forwards, or failing that, that Tera Mtembu would have moved to the open side, rather than expecting the rookie to play in a completely unfamiliar position.

I realised that, in rating his performance, I was doing so in the context of what I’d expect from a blind side flanker. Meyer did, in fact, make three strong carries while on the field, but with Etienne Oosthuizen performing the blind side role with distinction, Meyer did his best to adapt to the ball chasing role, one which we know he doesn’t have a huge amount of experience in. Watching him more closely, I saw that he was pretty good in terms of positioning and work rate in this role, regularly being on the shoulder of the ball carrier or among the first two or three players to arrive at a ruck. He was seldom tested as a fringe defender, since the Kings didn’t probe this channel much, but did deliver a handful of good tackles all the same, missing only one that I saw.

Taking the above into account, I’d like to amend my rating and rather declare that Plank had a satisfactory outing as a makeshift open side flank, even if we are looking to see more impact from him in his regular position as he matures. Let it never be said that I’m too proud to own up to a disservice and attempt to correct it, nor that I’m not a supporter of our young players when they are asked to step up as seniors.


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