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Selection dilemmas aplenty for Gold


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 14 Apr 2015 at 09:44
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

The good news for the Sharks is that a number of players that missed out on last week’s trip to Ellis Park due to injury – as well as a few that picked up niggles in the game – all appear to be fit for selection for this weekend’s game against the Bulls in Durban.

Beast Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis should both come into the frame, after being rested last week, while Marcell Coetzee doesn’t appear to have done any lasting damage to his hand. Ryan Kankowski, who pulled out of the Ellis Park contest at the 11th hour should also be fit to play. Also back in the frame this week is JP Pietersen (he’s been out for a fortnight with a shoulder complaint) while SP Marais, who was also rested last week, will also be in contention.

The challenge for Gary Gold and his team is quite simply whether to risk disrupting the fledgling momentum built last week. We’ve seen countless occasions this season when “star-studded” Sharks teams have simply failed to pitch and while the outfit that took the field last week was nowhere near as young as the Sharks marketing department would have you think, there’s little doubt that this alternate side produced by far the most passionate and committed performance we’ve seen to date. Dare Gold risk bringing his stars back in, or must he persevere with the players who, despite being less well-known, have shown a desire to play?

Dale Chadwick suffered a little in certain scrums last week, but was otherwise very good, while Lourens Adriaanse stood his ground well (despite a bad tackle or two). Franco Marais won rave reviews for his lineout work as well and with the set piece by-and-large functioning well in Joburg, it’s really hard to justify bringing Mtawarira, du Plessis and maybe even Kyle Cooper back in for the upcoming contest. By the same token, the Sharks appear to have stumbled upon a gem loose trio in Coetzee, Willem Alberts and Renaldo Bothma and Ryan Kankowski’s lineout prowess aside, one would think that he would have to make do with a bench spot at best this week.

Among the backs it becomes even more complex. Odwa Ndungane, to my mind, was a revelation at fullback and played his best attacking game of the year from that position. While we’ve conceded that SP Marais has definitely been improving, I can’t see how he could displace Odwa at this stage; if a change is to be made, it probably needs to be at 13, but then again, can Gold really risk bringing the disinterested-seeming Pietersen straight in for Waylon Murray, after the performances the former has delivered thus far in 2015? And surely Jack Wilson must be close to a start after a few really strong cameos off the bench? Will the coaches be brave enough to make the switch that fans are clamouring for and move S’bura Sithole to centre, with either Pietersen or Wilson on the wing?

One feels it’s unlikely that the Sharks will go into this massive contest without the strongest team available to them – at least on paper. I’d like to believe that these stars, though, must be on their last warning and that another un-commited display should see them permanently benched in favour of the hungrier (if not always younger) understudies.



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