In all the euphoria that comes with the Sharks win on Saturday, there’s yet another important aspect to be debated. Did anyone else notice that John Smit played YET ANOTHER position this weekend – and did so bloody well?
Now I’m no scrummaging expert, but it looked to me as though, with Smit at loosehead and the Du Plessis brothers in the other positions, the Sharks scrum finally started to look stable – if not actually dominant. In a bid to ensure gametime for each of the umpteen internationals in the front row, coach John Plumtree has mixed and matched this season to the point of insanity and yet it was only Saturday’s combination that has really looked the part thus far. Could it be that Smit may have a rugby life left at prop – only on the other side of the scrum?
Consensus is that Smit has failed to establish himself as a top tighthead since making the switch in 2008 and the irony is that in making that transition, he has probably also accumulated a little too much “padding” to be mobile enough to play hooker. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs for the great man who has given his all for Springbok and Sharks rugby for over ten years; could the latest, unexpected move to loosehead offer a glimmer of hope?
The inevitable problem that this move creates, though, is that it leaves yet another real star of the Sharks (and hopefully still the Boks), Beast Mtawarira, without a starting berth. Beast, it’s fair to say, has struggled for consistency since enjoying a frankly superlative 2008 season and his current form is patchy at best. Perhaps a stint off the bench might be what he needs to get that fire back? The other advantage of developing Smit as a loosehead is that it leaves a spot in the 22 for Craig Burden, a rising talent sorely in need of game time.
Now, don’t take this as any indication that I feel Smit MUST be used at loosehead only in the future. I was really very pleasantly surprised by what I saw, though and think it’s an idea that merits further investigation. What do you guys think? Might it have legs? Or should Smit stay at hooker, or even at tighthead?Tweet