I’m not sure when last I felt like the Sharks were in THIS MUCH trouble.
No fire, no direction and a team of ailing stars running around cluelessly like they have no idea whatsoever what is expected of them. Back in 2005 we looked similar and that year, Dick Muir took the revolutionary step of introducing the next generation of Academy stars into the team, en masse. Sure, we had a particularly gifted generation of young stars coming through; Barritt, Murray, Pietersen, Daniel and Kakowski among them, but the injection of youth and enthusiasm had a marked impact on the team.
It’s time to do the same. Skipper Badenhorst needs to go. It’s time to back Burden to deliver and bring in a youngster to understudy for him. Jody Jenneker has gone to the Valke (and we may still rue that) but perhaps we need young Dylan Rutherford or Sibusiso Dube to come in. The decision to sent Johan Snyman to New Zealand is now also looking a daft one, as the youngster could add a lot in the place of the coasting Albert van den Berg, or of Alistair Hargreaves who just hasn’t made the step up.
I keep going on about Justin Downey like he’s some kind of messiah, but honestly, when are we going to give this young man a run? By the time Jean Deysel gets back, it may well be too late to save our season and we’ve seen time and again that Nik Blignaut ain’t the answer at flank.
Scott Mathie needs the bullet, I’m afraid. Macleod needs to start until Rory is better. Put Freddy on the bench to cover scrumhalf, if need be, or bring in Neil de Bruyn. Flyhalf is a huge problem until we get some talent back, but if Brad isn’t fit, let’s have another look at Andrew Borgen, who I feel has been unfairly discarded after a single outing behind a pack that was getting stuffed. Monty Dumond can go back to France.
It’s at centre, though, where I would make the biggest changes. I’d start with Riaan Swanepoel at 12 and bring in the amazing young “Zuks” Vulindlu outside him. I’ve had enough of the carthorses that don’t know how to break the line. Let’s get in some young blood that is quick, strong and above all, eager. Chris Jordaan moves to fullback in my new team, with Lwazi Mvovo and Wes Bodmer the wings.
Here is my revolutionary young Sharks outfit to take on the Lions:
15 Chris Jordaan, 14 Lwazi Mvovo, 13 Luzuko Vulindlu, 12 Riaan Swanepoel, 11 Wes Bodmer, 10 Brad Barritt/Andrew Borgen, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Jean Deysel/Keegan Daniel, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Johann Muller, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Deon Carstens
16 Dylan Rutherford, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Pampoen van Jaarsveldt, 19 Skholiwe Ndlovu, 20 Keegan Daniel/Thabo Mamojele, 21 Fred Michalak, 22 Andrew Borgen/Andries Strauss