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Premier Division
Xerox Golden Lions 10 10 48
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New heroes rise, old legends fall

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 22 Oct 2014 at 09:43
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The 2014 Currie Cup campaign for the Sharks was, to me, as noteworthy for the unfortunate waning of a few previously rather bright stars, than it was for the emergence of new ones.

The fabled “blend of youth and experience” is a well-worn phrase used by coaches and writers alike to describe the ideal squad composition and you can’t really doubt the wisdom of having a bunch of seasoned war horses in your setup to complement and guide the upcoming “next generation”. There’s obviously got to be a useful middle bunch as well; those who were the next big thing a few years back and now provide the mainstay of the team. The Sharks, I feel, suffer from the fact that much of what they’ve developed over the last few years – players who should comprise this middle group – are now plying their trade and often excelling elsewhere. That’s perhaps a topic for a different post, though.

I’d like to focus, here, on both the very old and the very young. Much has been said about the bevvy of young players who have, for the most part, stood up and stood up well in Currie Cup this year. Thomas du Toit, Cameron Wright and Andre Esterhuizen are the obvious players who come to mind, given that all are within a year or two of high school still. Others, including Khaya Majola, Johan Meyer, Franco Marais and Wiehan Hay played some senior rugby in this campaign after a few years with the juniors and also, for the most part, showed enough potential to suggest that they definitely deserve a further look in.

The Sharks, after all, have a fairly good track record when it comes to identifying and incorporating serious junior talents and it’s not altogether surprising that we’ve uncovered yet another very good batch in 2014.

I’m more concerned about the senior corps, the grey beards in the squad whose job it is to provide the leadership, set the tone and generally provide the framework within which the juniors can learn and hopefully excel. While we admittedly went into this campaign a little light on experience, given both Bok commitments and overseas departures, I felt all the same we really battled at times as our leadership group went missing. While the likes of Jacques Botes, Marco Wentzel and Odwa Ndungane (before his injury) always gave their individual best to help Tera Mtembu and guide the youngsters, other seniors who were brought in specifically to add experience (I’m thinking specifically about Matt Stevens and Tonderai Chavhanga) were more often guilty of making errors themselves and setting a rather poor example for the youngsters to follow.

We tend to be very hard on players whom we consider seniors – I’m thinking of the likes of SP Marais, Dale Chadwick or Paul Jordaan – when they make mistakes but do need to concede that these guys are themselves still very young and are often thrust into leadership roles perhaps before they’re quite ready for them, simply because the experienced core we spoke of either isn’t there at all, or isn’t pulling its weight.


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