As the old man and leader of the backline, Stefan is the man to turn the Sharks backline woes around.
Ok, before I go it is only fair to give the stats from the Waratahs’ game, as Stefan deserves that. And unfortunately the stats support my argument, but also prove that Stefan is the key to turning the Sharks around and if he plays like he did in the last 25 minutes the Sharks luck will change.
In the 1st 55 minutes of the game, Stefan received the ball 14 times. He kicked the ball away 11 times, 3 times on attack in the Waratahs half wasting good attacking opportunities. A lot of these kicks also kept the Sharks on the back foot. In Stefan’s defence here he wasn’t the only guy that kicked ball away from the fullback position, Odwa and Goode also had a hand in keeping the Sharks camped in their half.
Two significant changes in the last 25 minutes turned the Sharks around. Firstly Stefan kicked JP (that did squat all game) to fullback and stood in JP’s place in the backline. This I felt is what a good leader would do. He then received 14 balls (notice the same amount of received balls in half the time, because he bought himself into the game) of which he only kicked 5 times. And only one was kicked on attack. This change in Stefan’s game and Ruan moving to flyhalf, suddenly made the backline look dangerous and suddenly the Sharks were putting phases together and kept the Sharks out their half. Suddenly it was the forwards that needed to pull up their socks, to turn the Sharks fortunes around. The rest is history. One referee given a yellow and another chance blown.
If Stefan can carry on where he left off, he will certainly silence his critics. To end, here is the comment made at the time Stefan turned his game around. A decision to run instead of kick gave the Sharks a kickable penalty (unfortunately the second easy one missed on the night that cost the Sharks the game): “They get their reward for Stefan running it back 30 to 40 meters.” Stefan this is what your critics want to see. That is me finally out of here, tied up all loose ends.