Fred does us no favours

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 1 Jun 2008 at 14:26

If rumours are to be believed, it’s quite likely that the Natal Sharks will have Fred Michalak available at flyhalf for the majority of their 2008 Currie Cup campaign. While a reasonable short-term stopgap, I feel that playing the maverick Frenchman will do more harm than good in the long-term.

The Sharks have something of an Achilles heel at flyhalf. The departure of Butch James for pastures greener has left a huge void. It was hoped that Michalak would be the man to slot in at pivot and aid in the development of Frans Steyn, felt by the brains trust to be the natural long-term solution at ten. Neither of these gambles paid off in this year’s Super 14, however, with both men looking wholly unimpressive when entrusted with the backline general role.

Steyn doesn’t seem to have the speed to play flyhalf at the highest level. His hands, feet and (most importantly) decision making abilities just don’t appear to happen fast enough to truly dictate a game from the number ten position. He was given a fair amount of time at pivot in the opening stages of the competition, but it appears that the Sharks have now backtracked on this and are viewing him primarily as a midfield option. Michalak, on the other hand, showed some patches of brilliance, but questions around his temperament and more vitally, his ability to communicate well enough with those around him, severely blunted his impact. His knee injury ten minutes into the Waratahs game brought down the curtain on a Super 14 campaign that failed to deliver on much of its promise.

Ruan Pienaar emerged as an unlikely hero (of sorts) in the final weeks of the competition and although he played quite well against the Cheetahs and Chiefs, appeared far short of the mark when the Sharks lost hopelessly in Sydney a week later. He has all the skills to succeed at flyhalf but lacks the calmness under pressure that comes with experience in the position. His temperament may also come into question. Whether or not Pienaar will actually develop into a top flyhalf is impossible to predict right now; his elevation to the Springbok squad is unlikely to reveal the answer either, as he will no doubt enjoy very little game-time over the next 3 months. Perhaps a full Currie Cup campaign settling into the flyhalf role with the Sharks would have served him better at this stage?

Whatever the case, the Sharks will be without Pienaar, Steyn and even stand-in pivot Adi Jacobs for the bulk of the Currie Cup season. Only once the play-offs loom could they hope to have any of these three available, in itself a long shot. Although it might be a case of necessity to play Michalak now, he will not be around once the new French season kicks off. Any time he spends gelling with th Sharks backline will be wasted. Furthermore, the fact that he can’t speak English means that those around him are unlikely to learn from playing with him. In fact, his presence in the squad is nothing but an obstacle to further development of the flyhalves in the squad.

The Sharks don’t have any idea who will play at flyhalf in next year’s Super 14 either. I just hope they plan to re-contract Butch James, since Steyn has shown he’s not up to it, Michalak will be in France and Pienaar will still not be experienced enough in the position, having spent the bulk of 2008 on the Bok woodwork, filling in at scrumhalf, flyhalf, fullback and wherever else he happens to be needed. The other option here (and the one I would recommend) is to entrust Bradley Barritt with the role in the Currie Cup with a view to him developing as a natural flyhalf option for the Super 14 next year.

Barritt has the vision and brain to play flyhalf and is the best defender in the Sharks squad. He lacks real pace, which (according to the views of a former national coach) is the reason he has to date not been considered for higher honours as a centre, but flyhalf is the one position where this limitation can potentially best be overcome. Barritt needs to work on his kicking game, but with his pedigree and work ethic, there is no reason to suspect that come the business end of the Currie Cup, Barritt shouldn’t be well on his way to being a far more complete pivot. He was, after all, an accomplished kicker at school level, both out of hand and at goal and should now hopefully be over the troublesome ankle injury that has limited his kicking abilities to date.

None of the other young flyhalves in the squad appear to have what it takes to make a serious impact on the Currie Cup stage. Tiaan Marx played the majority of the season at pivot for the Wildebeest and certainly didn’t do much to turn their woeful season around. Scott Spedding seems seriously light on big match temperament, for all his skills and Riaan Swanepoel looks set to be swallowed up by the same “utility curse” that has prevented any of the Sharks inside backs from settling at ten.

Having Michalak in the squad will be a great insurance policy for the Sharks in this year’s Currie Cup, but Bradley Barritt is the man who needs to start the majority of games in the number ten shirt, if we are to take anything meaningful from this year’s campaign forward to the Super 14 next year.


  • So I really rate Barritt…

  • Comment 1, posted at 02.06.08 07:45:31 by robdylan Reply
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  • Brad played well in last year’s CC…so give him the number 10 and see how much he’s grown.

  • Comment 2, posted at 02.06.08 07:56:59 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
  • @blackshark (Comment 2) : They just need to get him a dedicated kicking coach. Now, let’s think. Is their anyone floating around in Durbs who could help? Perhaps a failed head coach now working his way back up through the club scene. Used to kick the call 70 metres without even trying. Also played a fair bit with Plum. Know who I mean?

  • Comment 3, posted at 02.06.08 08:11:10 by robdylan Reply
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  • Brad is an underrated & underutilised player.He plays well @ flyhalf and can call the play.I think his heart is with the Sharks,but if we don’t watch out he could be snapped up by another union.He has pace enough to beat the fastest loosies – Chiefs & Cheetahs games bear tesimony. He would be my choice as a stop-gap for the CC. :cool:

  • Comment 4, posted at 02.06.08 08:16:03 by markm Reply

    markmVodacom Cup player
  • @robdylan: Where are Henri Honiball & Andre Joubert when you need them?! :grin:

  • Comment 5, posted at 02.06.08 08:18:19 by markm Reply

    markmVodacom Cup player
  • @markm (Comment 4) : Everyday someone mentions Brad playing at a different union, im beginning to wonder.

  • Comment 6, posted at 02.06.08 08:25:29 by PJLD Reply
    Clayton(PJLD)Team captain
  • @PJLD(comment 6): See my comment about Charl McLeod in the Adi Jacobs article

  • Comment 7, posted at 02.06.08 08:31:40 by markm Reply

    markmVodacom Cup player
  • alritey

  • Comment 8, posted at 02.06.08 08:40:22 by PJLD Reply
    Clayton(PJLD)Team captain
  • @markm (Comment 5) : was actually thinking about Reece-Edwards

  • Comment 9, posted at 02.06.08 09:05:28 by robdylan Reply
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  • I dunno about Barrit at Flyhalf. I wasn’t that impressed in the Currie Cup last year. Let’s develop Ruan and give him an extended run.. I sure he will shape.

  • Comment 10, posted at 02.06.08 09:16:53 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
    Assistant coach
  • The best favour that could be done for the Sharks and potentially SA rugby is for the Boks to drop Ruan Pienaar from the Bok squad and let him spend a Currie Cup season at 10 to see if he can settle into the position. Also bring Henry Honiball off the farm to see if he can teach his “son” to tackle properly.

    If that plan doesn’t work I suggest the Sharks and SA Rugby dig deep and bring back Butch for Super 14 2009.

  • Comment 11, posted at 02.06.08 09:19:38 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive PassCurrie Cup player
  • @robdylan: Why don’t they use him in the same capacity as they used Campese a year or 2 ago?My comment was aimed at the lack of urgency in the back line coaching (especially @ 10).Reece-Edwards would be a welcome addition if they can get him to do it.

  • Comment 12, posted at 02.06.08 09:19:56 by markm Reply

    markmVodacom Cup player
  • @Pokkel (Comment 10) : @Dive Pass (Comment 11) : Problem is, because they HAVE picked Ruan for the Boks, there’s now no time for us to develop him before the Super 14. The best we can hope for is that we can use him at 10 in the knockout stages of the Currie Cup, which means we go into that phase with zero continuity.

    DP, I hope they are planning to bring Butch back. It would make so much sense.

  • Comment 13, posted at 02.06.08 09:25:36 by robdylan Reply
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  • @markm (Comment 12) : Agree with you. Would be nice if Campo could kiss and make up with Strooli, BJ and whoever else he’s pissed of this time too

  • Comment 14, posted at 02.06.08 09:26:37 by robdylan Reply
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  • Get Dollie from W.P… :twisted:

  • Comment 15, posted at 02.06.08 12:34:38 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
  • 15 ruan
    14 odwa
    13 murray
    12 steyn
    11 stefan or jp
    10 barritt
    09 cockott

    sounds good to me :mrgreen:

  • Comment 16, posted at 02.06.08 13:50:22 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
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  • ruan could be like his dad

    although when i had BF with a certain coach , he told me in no uncertain terms
    ruan is a flyhalf
    he said he knows ruan wants to play scrummy , but in no way is he a scrummy but a FH

  • Comment 17, posted at 02.06.08 13:52:19 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
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  • @sharks_lover (Comment 17) :

    A certain coach by the name of Jake White?

  • Comment 18, posted at 02.06.08 14:14:25 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive PassCurrie Cup player
  • no comment :shock:

  • Comment 19, posted at 02.06.08 14:19:59 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
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  • :lol:

  • Comment 20, posted at 02.06.08 14:20:14 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
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  • @Dive Pass (Comment 18) :

    Jake White was telling all the newspapers and every one of the 7987 breakfasts/ lunches he did after the RWC, that Ruan was the next Bok number 10.

  • Comment 21, posted at 02.06.08 14:25:56 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive PassCurrie Cup player
  • Very cute… :roll: but I thought we were talking about the Sharks no.10 for the CC that is starting in a few weeks…

    Who cares what Jake might have or might have not prophesiced about Ruan?

  • Comment 22, posted at 02.06.08 14:37:14 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
  • @blackshark (Comment 22) :

    Because if De Villiers was wise he wouldn’t keep Ruan as Bok utility backline player who may or may not play 10 minutes here and there but think of the future and let him go back to his province and get experience and exposure at 10…..

  • Comment 23, posted at 02.06.08 14:41:20 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive PassCurrie Cup player
  • i care black shark

    fact is like the man or not he made us world champions again , and it seems all that will be thrown away lik e it meant nothing

    dive pass he was very adament about ruan being a 10
    i know he has the abillity , but he can also be a damn good 15

  • Comment 24, posted at 02.06.08 14:48:51 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • @Dive Pass (Comment 23) : Maybe De Villiers has other plans for his number 10 ? like Dollie? :wink:

  • Comment 25, posted at 02.06.08 14:51:19 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
  • @blackshark (Comment 25) :

    Well then let Ruan come back to the Sharks rather then being the Bok jack of all trades….to eventually become master of none.

  • Comment 26, posted at 02.06.08 14:53:54 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive PassCurrie Cup player
  • @sharks_lover (Comment 24) :

    Relax there Sharky…

    Nothing is being thrown away….yet.

    Do you think Dick Muir got an invitation to these breakfasts and lunches where Prophet Jake delivered his ” Ruan at flyhalf” sermons? Cos it doesn’t look that way to me…

  • Comment 27, posted at 02.06.08 14:54:32 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
  • @Dive Pass (Comment 26) :

    1. DeV said he’s not a fan of utiliy players…so he must be working on something.

    2. Have the Sharks made up their minds about where they want Ruan to play?

  • Comment 28, posted at 02.06.08 14:57:02 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
  • he has trust me
    black sharks dollie is to small

    jake was quite clear about that too
    its like brent russel

    me personally i feel the boks are gonna get their asses kicked with the way they selecting new players

    you dont throw away from example the worlds best line out jumper
    you dont throw away defence for attack and as much as i like adi his defence is terrable

    against wales it might work
    but against the kiwi’s it wont

    chavanga i think is a good call

    then mujati in place of bj ???
    never in a million years
    bj is by far the strongest scrumager ( toghthead in SA )

  • Comment 29, posted at 02.06.08 14:57:29 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • Ok…i’m bored…so i went to and :
    ‘Fred michalak’
    anagrams to
    ‘Flake mad rich.’

    ‘francois steyn’
    anagrams to
    ‘Nice as Y-fronts

    ‘Brad barritt’
    anagrams to
    ‘Rat bird brat.’

    ‘rory kockott’
    anagrams to
    ‘OK cork to try.’

    ‘odwa ndungane’
    anagrams to
    ‘Now and a nudge.’

    ‘epi taione’
    anagrams to
    ‘Oi! Neat pie.’

    ‘Jean de villiers’
    anagrams to
    ‘Jailed sniveler.’

    ‘bryan habana’
    anagrams to
    ‘Ha! By ‘n’ an Arab.’

    ‘wynand olivier’
    anagrams to
    ‘Win on a devilry.

    ‘ricky januarie’
    anagrams to
    ‘Juicy, akin, rare.’

    :lol: :lol: :lol:

    I’m out…chat later people…

  • Comment 30, posted at 02.06.08 15:09:13 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
  • For once I agree with Rob on Barritt.

  • Comment 31, posted at 02.06.08 15:47:44 by MorneN Reply
    MornéTeam captain
  • @MorneN (Comment 31) : About bloody time

  • Comment 32, posted at 02.06.08 20:50:25 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach

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