Am I the only one looking at the Bulls team for this weekend’s game and thinking, “if only the Sharks had the balls to do something like that”?
Let’s face facts – this weekend’s game means less than nothing. With the Chiefs now fielding a weakened side against the Blues, the Sharks are unlikely to improve on their current 9th spot and whether we end 9th or 10th doesn’t significantly alter the reality that the 2010 season has been a disaster. Faced with the prospect of losing a fair few players after the Super 14 – some to the Boks and a few to greener pastures of another sort – would it not serve the team’s needs better for us to give a bunch of youngsters a proper go in Super 14 rugby to see what they’re made of?
The Bulls have done superbly and to end up in a situation where they can afford to not care about the result of the last game gives them so much luxury – and again I must give them credit for taking full advantage of that luxury. This has Heyneke Meyer’s stamp all over it and is proving once again that he has the vision to see past individual results and concentrate on the overall health of the union and depth of the talent pool. The Sharks, not being too harsh, I hope, don’t see things the same way and one could be forgiven for thinking that there is no plan bigger than “do your best to win the next match”.
We have seen the sort of impact that a raw, keen youngster can have on the Sharks play and I feel that the Sharks have missed a trick here in not using the opportunity to afford gametime to more fringe players. The Bulls have stopped just short of throwing their entire Vodacom Cup team into the fray, although an interesting statistic is that only three players in that starting fifteen are newcomers to Super Rugby. The Sharks cannot afford to be quite as adventurous, but could still have used the opportunity to pick a team that might be more representative of what we’re likely to field in the Currie Cup. Stand-out performers in the Vodacom Cup who (hopefully) would end up being the stars of the future, like Jean Stemmet and the likes, should really have been given a chance to play.
Without further ado, here’s the team that I would have chosen for this game. How many of you are surprised to see Pat Lambie at flyhalf?
15 – Mark Richards, 14 – Luzuko Vulindlu, 13 – Jean Stemmet, 12 – Riaan Swanepoel, 11 – Lwazi Mvovo, 10 – Patrick Lambie, 9 – Rory Kockott, 8 – Ryan Kankowski, 7 – Justin Downey, 6 – Keegan Daniel, 5 – Alistair Hargreaves (capt), 4 – Steven Sykes, 3 – Wiehahn Herbst, 2 – Craig Burden, 1 – Pat Cilliers
16 – John Smit, 17 – Jannie du Plessis, 18 – Jandre Marais, 19 – Mike Rhodes, 20 – Charl McLeod, 21 – Ruan Pienaar, 22 – Arno van Zyl