By nature I am a perpetual optimist. While I like to see the world through rose-coloured glasses, I am not so blinded by optimism that I can’t see things the way they are, but I also see other things that temper the bad stuff as well, so in my correspondence I urged Rob to err on the side of ambivalence rather than downright depression over the state of the Sharks and instead of expecting failure, rather wait to see if it happens (or not), or who knows, success might even occur. If it helps his blood pressure, then it’s been of some value at least!
And I urge anyone else in the same fit of depression to try take these words to heart.
So, after reading all the negativity, here are my 10 reasons to feel positive about the Sharks:
1. We showed last week against 130kg monster props that our scrum is probably the best, or up with the best in the tournament.
2. Who matches Jean Deysel, Ryan Kankowski, Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira, Deon Carstens and JP Pietersen in their positions for their attacking ability?
3. We have lost Frans Steyn and Rory Kockott. We have gained Charl McLeod and Bradley Barritt. Some would argue that it is a very good swap!
4. Our attack has been hugely impacted positively by the return from injury of Deysel and Pienaar. Pienaar is not a physical, crash-ball style of player and with his distribution along with Barritt, our backline may well come into their own after looking fairly boring on attack this season.
5. We’ve won 8 out of 11 games. You can’t be a rubbish side if you achieve a 72% success rate in the tournament.
6. We are creating opportunities, just not finishing them. If we weren’t creating them in the first place, we would be worried. Patience is a virtue and let’s hope that unlike last week, the 6 or 7 tries we left on the table because we didn’t hold on long enough are scored this week. I’d settle for just four!
7. If we win the next two games we are in the semis. The Hurricanes play the Chiefs this weekend and the Sharks could leapfrog the loser, depending on who it is. We then play the Bulls and if we win, could end second, or even first if we get bonus points and the Hurricanes lose of the their two remaining games. Finishing first or second on the log does not fill me with dread.
8. Our last two games are at home. We have lost twice in three years at home, a remarkable 89% home record.
9. We haven’t played one full excellent game yet, but have won 8 times. If we were playing to our potential, I’d be worried. But there is easily 20-30% untapped.
10. The Bye and for me one of the most crucial elements that rocked us. The bye was very late, unfairly so I argue, and like the Waratahs, it affected us. Then to return from a week’s break does have an effect on continuity and match practice and quite possibly the uncharacteristic handling errors could be put down to that. I would bet good money that our handling is much-improved this Saturday.
11. OK, I know I said 10, but I’m granting myself license to say one more. Before last year’s CC final which we won, we had the choker tag firmly (and maybe rightly so) around our necks. We won a game we were expected to (unlike previously when we lost games we should have won) and taking the Cheetahs and Reds aberrations out of the equation, this team may well be able to win games they have to. Getting up for a poor team is difficult. We won’t have that problem as we won’t have that kind of opposition from hereon in. I believe the team might have matured enough.
12. Final one – we have probably the best coach in South Africa, and amongst the best in the tournament, that counts for something, as do Johann Muller and John Smit and the other leaders in the team.Tweet