The Sharks, through excellent planning by the procurement team led by Rudi Straueli, find themselves in the enviable position among SA franchises of having too much good talent. Perhaps it’s time to look at a system that could use this wealth to benefit other franchises.
What I’m thinking of here is nothing new – it’s a loan system, similar to the draft that exists in New Zealand. The difference here is that this would literally be a short-term player loan, just until the end of the Super 14, to enable other SA teams to shore up weaknesses in their squads. The benefit for both parties is clear. Sharks players who are on the fringes of the squad get regular Super rugby game time, rather than languishing in the Vodacom Cup. Other SA teams have the option of calling on a pool of talented players, at pretty short notice, to bolster areas of weakness.
I would add the proviso that the loaned player HAS to be included in the Super 14 match 22 (or tour squad) so that we don’t end up with Wildebeest players playing Vodacom Cup against the Wildebeest. I would also prevent any “loaned” players from appearing against the Sharks, although this season, it is only really the Cheetahs that we still need to play.
I think there might even be added benefits for the Wildebeest here. Once the “draft squad” is taken out of circulation, Atherton and Louw would actually have a settled squad of players to pick from and can start to build some continuity, rather than having a squad of Sharks reserves that come into and out of the selection frame every week.
So, right now I would definitely send Pat Cilliers to the Stormers. They are crying out for decent cover at prop (better than Juan Harris, anyway) and Pat is unlikely to make the Sharks tour group ahead of BJ Botha, Jannie du Plessis, Deon Carstens or the Beast. Cilliers is too good to be playing Vodacom Cup and could learn a huge amount while contributing to the Stormers’ cause. The Sharks need to take any steps necessary to prevent the Waratahs and Hurricanes from picking up points on their South African tours, after all.
The Bulls are a team looking short of options at hooker and in the back row. Skipper Badenhorst isn’t one of our top hookers, but he does have a lot of Super Rugby experience and could certainly help out at Loftus. Jean Deysel would add a new dimension to the Bulls loose forward play with his combination of pace and bulk. Their colleagues to the south are crying out for more depth at lock, flyhalf, centre and wing, so why not offer the services of Alistair Hargreaves, Tiaan Marx, Andries Strauss, Henno Mentz or Frank Wagenstroom?
Strauss, in particular, is one character who is far, far better than the company he is currently playing in. He would make a huge contribution to any of the Bulls, Lions, Cheetahs or Stormers teams, as none of them have great depth in the centres. The Cheetahs also seem short of experienced campaigners at scrumhalf, so why not offer them Scott Mathie, or even the exciting Charl Macleod as short term cover?
I know I’m dreaming, but you have to admit the idea has merit, not so?Tweet