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Invest in the future

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 15 Apr 2015 at 09:54
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

One of my most frequent criticism of the Sharks during the Plumtree era – and perhaps the single biggest reason that his untimely demise met with my approval at the time – related to his short term thinking when selecting his teams. Allow me to elaborate…

My feeling, one established over a number of years and backed up by overwhelming evidence, was that Plumtree (results-focused as he was) tended to focus all his energies on the present, without too much regard to the future. That would mean always selecting the most experienced players he could find for the coming week’s match and not giving much thought to blooding those youngsters who would be needed in the years to come. As an example (in an era when he was blessed with quality loose forwards in abundance) you’d always back Plum to rather play Jean Deysel at lock than back a young player like Jandre Marais – when the chips were down.

This year’s Sharks are in a rather tricky situation, of course; results aren’t going their way and in this World Cup year, the looming spectre of mass exodus creates major uncertainty. One gets the feeling, in a lot of ways, that the Sharks are a team full of stars that peaked a year or two ago and are now grimly holding on for one last World Cup – and a nice foreign payday thereafter.

My approach to this is simple; invest in the future and do it now. Start to build the core of the next great Sharks team around the great youngsters already in the set up. Many of those boys have come up through the ranks and must surely be better positioned to establish a “Sharks culture” than the older (dare I say “journeyman”) players currently picked ahead of them?

We have three of the best young scrumhalves in the country on our books (and that’s not including Cobus Reinach) but not a one of them can get anywhere near the Super Rugby side because we continue to pick Conrad Hoffmann, a player who is certainly not going to be around in two years’ time. Andre Esterhuizen and S’bura Sithole – many people’s picks as a centre combination that can serve the Sharks well for years to come – should be picked together now and allowed to form that partnership. We’ve already bemoaned the loss of quality young tightheads while we continue to invest in Matt Stevens; why is Marne Coetzee (the last Baby Bok 3 left in our system) not being backed instead?

The list goes on.

It’s time for the new Sharks coaches to show that they’ve learned from the mistakes of the old. In 2016 we face a new challenge as Super Rugby changes again. Why not get the jump on our competitors and start now with the process of building a new team that can dominate that competition for years to come?


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