There’s been a lot of good news coming out of the Shark tank in recent weeks regarding new player acquisitions and I think that we, as fans who are often rather critical, should take this opportunity to congratulate the Sharks administration on the decisive (and necessary) steps that have been taken to bolster the squad ahead of next year’s Super 15.
The Super 14 campaign was disappointing and although one can point to a huge variety of factors outside of the team’s control, not least of which the horror flyhalf injury curse and a run of terrible luck in the first five weeks, there were nevertheless a few structural weaknesses in the squad that were exposed. Paramount among these was a lack of quality depth amongst the backs and a bit of a question mark about the second row as well. Since then, I feel the administration has done a pretty good job to both attract new talent to the union, as well as making the hard changes that were necessary in order to get the team playing more effective rugby.
Since the end of the Super 14, we’ve seen the likes of Lionel Mapoe, Ross Skeate, Jacques-Louis Potgieter and Meyer Bosman all commit themselves to the Sharks and together with a new emphasis on bringing through talented youngsters like Piet Lindeque, Dwayne Jenner and Jaco van Tonder, things are starting to seriously look up for the Sharks in terms of the backline, not only now but also for many years to come. There will always be those who accuse the Sharks of “only buying talent” but the emergence of young players like Pat Lambie. Lwazi Mvovo and Kyle Cooper, who have been developed through the academy structure and backed to deliver, belies that view. Every successful team needs to strike a balance between experienced campaigners and exciting youngsters and the Sharks Academy exports more than enough quality players to other provinces to make up for the few that flow the other way.
In the past, we’ve been very critical of the way the Sharks have opted to play older players who are not performing, rather than give youngsters a chance, but the way that Lambie and Mvovo have been allowed to develop and entrusted with responsibility in the team has been most adventurous and refreshing indeed – I feel that the coaching staff deserve credit for taking these bold steps. John Plumtree and his team are establishing quality depth in all positions and no player can now afford to rest on his laurels.
Now I trust you all know that I’m never one to shy away from fair criticism where I feel it is warranted, but there really has been a lot more good than bad to come out of the Sharks setup since the Super 14 ended and I’m not afraid to say a hearty “well done” to everyone involved. The Bulls can’t be on top forever and I sense that when we look back on 2010, we’ll say that this was the year in which we made the biggest strides towards our return to the glory days.
Viva, Sharks, viva! Black and white forever.Tweet