Once again, the Sharks managed to almost lose a game that they were expected to win. Something is just not right in that team and urgent steps needs to be taken to rectify the problem.
I’m not really sure how much better our pack can get on paper. We have two Bok props, two Bok locks and a loose trio containing individual pace and skill second to none. Sure, hooker is a weakness, but Badenhorst is pretty good in the tight-loose and is an excellent scrummager. Kanko, Botes and particularly Deysel, were individually pretty awesome on Saturday; yet, we still got pushed off the ball at the breakdown and conceded a ridiculous amount of turnovers. The introduction of Keegan Daniel, who had a pretty flipping good game, actually, seemed to improve matters, which is a little odd, considering how much smaller he is than the man he replaced.
Now, I watched the game with my good friend Dancing Bear and we came to an interesting conclusion about the Sharks’ loose forward play. They have no fetcher and are thus getting stuffed at each and every breakdown battle. No fetcher, you say? But Jacques Botes is one of our best players and wins man of the match two games out of three? Problem is, to my mind anyway, JB is being played out of position and is far more effective as a ball carrier or link man than he is as a ground player. Just look back to his best season ever in Sharks colours, 2006. Botes wore the number 7 jersey the entire season, with Warren Britz (a true fetcher if ever there was one) on the open side.
The problem the Sharks have is that, although Keegan Daniel is a better ground player, he is still not a pure number 6 in the way that Baywatch Grobbelaar is. He is far more suited to the “second-fetcher” role that is becoming the vogue at eighth man under the ELV’s. Jean Deysel’s value cannot be underestimated, though, as he (together with Botes) ensured enough “tightness” in the trio on Saturday to compensate for Daniel’s lack of weight. With Keegan doing the fetching, and Wolla and JB doing the muscling, the Sharks started to gain a little parity at the breakdowns in the second half, which ultimately allowed them to win the game, however fortunately.
The way forward is a bit of a hazy one, though, given that we now have three guys who can play number 8 and none that are ideally suited to 6. Skollie Ndlovu is another that is probably better suited to a ball-carrying role, further exacerbating the problem. Kankowski will doubtless head back to the Boks this week, so given that Deysel is our only credible 7, I think we have little option but to try Daniel at 6, with Botes moving to the back of the scrum. It’s at most a stopgap and one could only wish that a guy like Roland Bernard had decided to come to Durban, rather than France. While we’re at it, who was it that was so fast asleep they allowed Nico Breedt to sign with Free State instead of the Sharks? No prizes for guessing the answer to that one!
And let’s not even get started on the backs…Tweet