A film about a heroic bunch of men standing up against thousands. But also the game time it took Stefan Terblanche to realise he holds the key to Sharks’ success.
No one will dispute the fact that Stefan is probably the safest fullback in Super 14 rugby, but in the same breathe he is the most unimaginative. For 300 minutes this year he has kicked back valuable possession and consequently pinned the Sharks in their own half. For the first 60 minutes on Saturday Stefan kicked every ball he got, including two balls he kicked away while the Sharks were on attack in the Waratah’s half. An Aussie commentator said of a Waratah’s player during the game, “It is worrying when a player’s first instinct is to kick.” And this is so true about Stefan Terblanche. In the last 20 minutes of the game a tackle must have loosened some blockage in his brain and he started running the ball up field and suddenly the whole Sharks team seemed to light up and the team looked as if it had some venom. Imagine the possibilities if the Sharks started with a full back with a bit of vision.
There are other problems in the Sharks like Jannie du Plessis’ regular brainfarts, Ruan’s poor defence, JP’s lack of work ethic or Odwa’s lack of pace. But all these pale compared to Stefan’s reliance on his boot. Three Sharks’ losses out of four have been decided by referees, but as John Smit eluded to in the post match interview, referee decisions tend to go in favour of the team with the momentum, and out of the two jaded teams on Saturday, the Waratahs created a lot more with the ball they had.
The Sharks will turn the corner when Stefan is either replaced or he starts holding onto the ball and creating opportunities for his team. It does seem coincidental that the Sharks’ backline woes started when he took over at fullback. And during the 2009 Currie Cup when the backs had some life, it coincided with his increase in ball retention. It does make one wonder.Tweet