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Total commitment required

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 14 Apr 2015 at 12:19
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

As Sharks fans distraught at the implosion of yet another Super Rugby challenge continue to seek answers, a key question around planning needs to be addressed, given recent comments from Gary Gold.

The new Director of Rugby has taken a lot of the flack after a nightmare start that has seen the side win just four of their opening nine matches. I feel that to question the man’s credentials just three months into the job is very unfair, particularly given the lateness of his arrival and his complete lack of power to change any of the structures (read appointments) around him. Gold is ever the diplomat and takes pains to avoid making excuses; he has, however, admitted that arriving in Durban just in time for the final week of the pre-season was not ideal and while the situation could not be helped, it has definitely had an impact on team cohesion.

I think we’ll all agree that (with hindsight) it was perhaps a little naive to expect that a new head coach could miss the entire pre-season programme, yet somehow slot in seamlessly when the season proper kicked off. While those responsible for the decision will claim that their hands were tied, a little bit of honest introspection and an admission that this wasn’t the best plan ever, would go a long way towards helping us to move on.

In the absence of a time machine, though, there’s nothing we can do to change what’s happened and we rather need to get behind Gold and give him the time necessary to make up for this disconnect. It’s a one-off, we hope – not a situation that will ever be repeated.

That, surprisingly enough, is not really the point of this article. If it’s obviously inexcusable for a member of the coaching staff to be absent for pre-season, where so much of the planning, strategising and fine-tuning of game plans and structures (like defence!) is done, how can it be any more acceptable for any of the playing staff to do the same? How can a player be expected to understand his role if he’s not there? How can we be sure that he’s done the necessary leg-work in terms of conditioning, that he’s sweated enough with his team mates on the training field to form the necessary bond of trust on the playing field? The answer is obviously that none of these things can be assured, so instead we’re left taking a big risk and trusting the player’s “reputation”.

I’m talking, of course, about our players on the oh-so-lucrative split deals that allow them to spend half the year in Japan. It’s long been mooted that the lack of a pre-season of any sort leaves these players jaded and out-of-condition. How much longer can we accommodate these superstars in our set up when chasing the buck seems to be a higher priority than giving their all in the black and white?

I’d challenge any reader to name a player who has come back from one of these Japanese stints in better nick than when he left. Against the backdrop of too many “superstars” who seem to find it a bit too much effort to give their all when playing for the lowly Sharks, I’d far rather we fill our team and our squad with players who are totally commuted to the Sharks year round.

Let’s set a precedent for 2016: aside from World Cup Boks, if you don’t play Currie Cup in 2015, you don’t play Super Rugby the following year.


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