The Sharks lost against Province on Saturday because we got certain selections wrong up front – but more so because the guys that were picked didn’t front up to the massive physical challenge that the WP pack mounted. Trying to blame rookie flyhalf Guy Cronjé is frankly nonsensical and smacks of the politics of desperation.
I don’t think anyone anticipated how much of an impact Chris Jack and Anton van Zyl would have in the Province engine room. To say that they were utterly superb on the day and under the conditions would be a gross understatement. The underrated Province loose forwards also played out of their skins and the Sharks pack, as a whole, simply weren’t in it. This, mind you, is a unit containing a pair of Bok props and a pair of locks who only last week were in the Springbok 22. To say that the Sharks pack should have performed better is again stating the obvious.
Once again, the Botes-Daniel combination was shown up in a tight game and in hindsight, perhaps Skipper Badenhorst should have started in a game that was going to be more about grunt than it was about pace and finesse. Steven Sykes worked hard while Deysel erred on the side of trying to be a one-man show. The rest of the pack was anonymous and Jannie du Plessis, in particular, needs the riot act read in no uncertain terms. Is he incapable of putting in a decent performance without his little brother there to hold his hand?
Joe Muller too seems to have lost his mojo in a big way. Perhaps he needs some rest after a number of seasons without a break. Well, he got the break on Saturday, in more ways than one and we’ll struggle to replace him. That said, I hope he comes back full of his old fire and reignites a pack that is currently playing on reputation alone.
Let’s get back to poor bloody Guy Cronjé though. Did anyone actually see him touch the ball in the first half? If you’re going to develop the player, then pick him and let him run the game the way he’s supposed to, for goodness sake! Don’t keep shuffling him around the backline to wherever you feel he’ll do the least damage while letting Oom Stefan and Riaan Swanepoel take turns at pretending to be the flyhalf. I understand Plum then went on afterwards about he was only picked because there was nobody else, which is quite different to what he was saying before the game.
Developing a flyhalf is a process and the first step is empowering the player and giving him continuity in the position. Let Cronjé settle and don’t shield him from the realities of the game he’s decided to play for a living. After five matches, we’ll know whether he has what it takes or not.
Then again, as we saw last weekend in Joburg, even hte great Morné Steyn looks pretty ordinary behind a pack that’s getting whipped. Sort the forwards, Sharks. You can’t play 10-man rugby without a pack.Tweet