Sharks coach John Plumtree has welcomed the introduction of new applications to the laws which he admits The Sharks will be working on refining during the Neo Africa Preseason Series.
Mike Marnewick writes for www.sharksrugby.co.za.
The Sharks leave for Cape Town on Sunday with pretty much their entire squad to play in the two warm-up matches – against the Western Force on Tuesday and the Stormers on Friday.
“We’re expecting everyone to be available, Ruan Pienaar is about the only one that won’t be playing,” confirms The Sharks coach.
In terms of the new applications, possibly the one with the most impact at Vodacom Super 14 level revolves around the tackle/breakdown area and could have a major influence on the role of the fetcher – and his effectiveness.
“The referees are saying they are going to give fewer rights to the tackler and the influence he has at the breakdown,” explains Plumtree. In the past, the attacking side were often unable to build on an attacking break, and the application this year appears to be looking at promoting positive, attacking play.
“The tackler has to roll away or get to his feet and release the tackled player before he can play the ball,” the coach confirms.
“The tackler has to release the tackled player and a lot of the ball that is slowed down or stolen at breakdowns is stolen by the tackler, not releasing the tackled player. It was something we were trying to drive a couple of years ago but it wasn’t changed then.
“Now they are realising the importance of this and if you want to have quicker ruck ball, better flow in attack all really happens at the breakdown. So we’ve been working on the fact that potentially there is going to be quicker ball which is going to stress our defence more, so there are certain things we’ve been working on.”
He adds that the second aspect of play is the scrums.
“The scrummaging is a real issue for the referees because of the number of resets, so they’re hoping to tidy that area up. It’s therefore important that we scrum within the laws and hopefully get a good referee who will control it.”
The Sharks have prided themselves on their forward attack at the setpiece, and with a number of Springboks in the pack, including an all-Bok front row in Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis and Sharks and Springbok captain John Smit (not to mention Deon Carstens and Jannie du Plessis who have also represented the country), they will look to make effective scrumming an essential part of their game.
The third and final area the referees will be policing especially hard focuses on the kicking game.
The up-and-under has become a prolific attacking option, but in essence, the players chasing the ball do not always come from an onside position which can affect how the receiver plays on.
“To discourage the counter-attack, what’s happened in the past is the players chasing the high ball were not always behind the kicker, so they are going to make sure the defensive players after the kicker are onside and that will help create more space for counter-attacking.
“The kicking game dominated Tri-Nations rugby with chasers that weren’t onside and they are tidying that up, so we have to make sure we are smart about what we do with our chasers after we kick and listen to the referee’s instructions.”Tweet