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Moving on and looking ahead

Written by Maria Delport (Letgo)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 24 Mar 2015 at 07:09
Tagged with : , , , , ,

I think we are all in agreement.

Bismarck du Plessis’ actions on the field deserved punishment. However, it is time to move on and look at the rest of the team.

Talking about the rest of the team. Didn’t they do us proud. Again, under the greatest adversity, when your captain has shamed you and another senior player has been sent off and left the team outnumbered. You could be expected to hang your heads and take the inevitable defeat, but not these guys. As always, when the chips are down, the Sharks are at their best. I have to say, I was immensely proud of the boys. Now it is time to build on a fighting performance like that, something the Sharks usually don’t do. It is time for these boys to step up and play at that same level, when their numbers are up. Anything less than a win against the Force will not be good enough and will negate all the hard work done against the Chiefs.

Kyle Cooper did immensely well when he was forced onto the field unexpectedly. For a man that hardly gets 5 minutes each week, he got stuck right in and looked like he belonged and it is about time the coaches take notice and give him opportunities instead of using him only as a stopgap. Ryan Kankowski was another player who really stood up and played as a leader against the Chiefs. He is already a senior player and a leader in the squad and I believe he will do a fine job as captain. Pat Lambie stepped up as a captain and though it must feel like his inclusion for the next game is imperative, he must be rested, along with Marcell Coetzee and Cobus Reinach. If you do not rest them now fatigue will come in and play a role later on, maybe even an irreversible role. There are enough quality players in our squad to do the job against the Force.

The tougher replacements are the ones that are technically not forced on the Sharks, but rather requested. Replacing Lambie at this time seems like an impossible request, but for the players own sake, I feel management need to take responsibility and give him the week off, if not now, when? There is never going to be a good time.

Fred Zeilinga and Stefan Ungerer had a good run in the Vodacom Cup in the Super Rugby curtain raiser on Saturday and although their opposition didn’t bring much to the contest, the way both players came out and performed should be enough for the Sharks coaching team to trust these players to take over the mantle for one week. Of course there is also Conrad Hoffman who has been doing bench duty, but I am a strong believer in playing halfbacks in combination wherever possible. I would have the more experienced pair of Hoffman and Lionel Cronje on the bench. These two looked really good as a combination during Currie Cup 2014.

The toughest replacement could well be Marcell Coetzee. Not only do the Sharks not have a proper like for like replacement for Marcell in the squad, but no less than three of their top loose forwards are still on the injury list as well as the recent injury of Pieter-Steph du Toit who has been seen as a hybrid lock/loose forward in the past. Both Willem Alberts and Jean Deysel still have a couple of weeks left in their recovery and news has been scarce on Mtembu’s injury. Ettienne Oosthuizen, injured in pre-season, did have a run with the Sharks XV and could be an option in the back row. While Daniel du Preez has also been given a taste of Super Rugby in the last few weeks. Khaya Majola is the only one of these men that is actually an openside flank, but the Sharks might just opt to go without a fetching option if they do decide to rest Coetzee. Another outside option for the position, could be Johan Meyer, who had an exceptionally good game for the Sharks XV on Saturday.

Although the Force are not been the pushovers they have been in the past and in fact, could count themselves unlucky not to have walked away with more than a bonus point against the Bulls, one feels this will be the best opportunity for the Sharks to rest a few players. They should see this as a chance to test a few players at this level and give them a run in case they are needed again in the future. In fact though with all the changes it might not even be considered, a player like Jaco van Tonder is also long overdue a run, with the inconsistent performances of SP Marais continuing at fullback.


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