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The lessons (I hope) we’ve learned


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 30 Mar 2015 at 11:54
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , ,

They always say you learn more from defeat than you do from victory; I for one am rather hopeful that even though the Sharks didn’t actually lose against the Force on Saturday, they’ll have taken the opportunity to learn a few lessons regardless. Here are my top 5.

Cohesion doesn’t “just happen”

To paraphrase Boromir of Gondor, “one does not simply change your hooker and halfbacks and expect everything to continue to work flawlessly”. While it’s tempting to blame individuals for some of the woes (and I’m looking at the lineouts in particular) we need to at least be a little sympathetic to the fact that some of the men brought in have had precious little game time over the last 6 weeks and that some teething problems are perhaps to be expected. The key point here is to make better use of rotation through the campaign so you don’t end up in a situation where a player has to “come in cold”. I’m not saying that individuals are blameless, but it was rather obvious to me that the three main culprits, Kyle Cooper, Conrad Hoffmann and Frans Steyn, were the three guys brought in to replace senior players in key positions.

You’ll play the way you train

There’s simply no way that the fall out from the Chiefs match can not have affected the team during the build up to the Force match. The see-saw ride relating to Frans Steyn’s availability was perhaps the most obvious aspect, but Gary Gold himself admitted that the side had had a disrupted week in training and that is always going to translate into a less than perfect performance on the pitch. The lesson here is to ensure that we don’t end up in that situation again – hey, did anyone notice that we had no cards and no citings after the Force game? That in itself has to count as a positive.

Frans isn’t the answer…

At least, not at flyhalf. His tactical kicking simply isn’t good enough and we’d be foolish to confuse his “big boot” for an educated one. Steyn simply does not have the subtlety or accuracy in his out-of-hand kicking game to be a useful option at flyhalf in the current game plan; nor has he really shown anything with ball in hand to suggest that perhaps he could make it at 10 playing a different type of game. Plenty of people had misgivings ahead of the contest and to this writer, in particular, it was clear as early as the fifth minute of the game that Zeilinga should have been given the berth instead. The Sharks need to rotate Pat Lambie and Fred Zeilinga at pivot and leave Steyn be at inside center.

…But SP may just be

Credit where credit is due, please. SP Marais had a fantastic game at fullback and spared more than a few blushes through solid defensive work at fullback. It was his attacking game that caught the eye, though, scoring his first ever Super Rugby try and then creating another for Lwazi Mvovo quite simply out of nothing. The performance doesn’t erase the mistakes he’s made in the past, but more of the SP we saw on Saturday can only be a good thing for the Sharks. That Renaldo Bothma is the answer isn’t a lesson we needed to learn, of course. The kid has been fantastic all the way through.

It’s time to back youth at 9

The Sharks have at least 3 very good junior scrumhalves (not counting Cobus Reinach) on their books. These players have all shown over the last season or two that they have what it takes to play senior rugby. Conrad Hoffmann, to me, is an experiment that hasn’t worked any better the second time around than it did the first. Please can we shelve it now and rather work on turning Stefan Ungerer into the next Bok scrumhalf? Thank you.



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