Sharks losing Bok ground

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Springboks, Super Rugby on 24 Apr 2012 at 08:04
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A common gripe – or, at least, muttered accusation – since Heyneke Meyer took over as Bok coach centres around the perception player from the Blue Bulls, whom he knows and has worked with before, may enjoy an easier ride when it comes to Bok selection. While it is premature to say whether this will indeed be the case, we as Sharks fans need to acknowledge just how easy our players are making it for him, if this is indeed his plan.

One of our followers on Twitter made this point to me yesterday and it was well made indeed; how many of our current side do we genuinely believe should be starting for the Boks on current from? It’s one thing to claim that we are as good as the Bulls or Stormers on paper – and then bemoan the on-field performances that don’t seem to back this up – but the reality is, I fear, that our playing personnel are, if anything, over-represented in this week’s national planning camp, given how poorly the team has performed over 9 weeks of Super Rugby.

If Meyer had to pick a test starting fifteen tomorrow, how many Sharks players would be in that starting lineup? Bismarck du Plessis would, of course, be a strong contender, but there are other hookers who are more consistent and do the basics better, such as Adriaan Strauss. Brother Jannie may well be there, simply due to a dearth of experienced tight head options, but along with the only other incumbent Sharks forward in the test pack, Willem Alberts, current form hardly justifies the selection. Just three forwards from the team that a year or two back boasted the best pack in the country? Slim pickings indeed, but the amongst the backs, it’s worse.

For the reality is, unless Meyer were to opt to give JP Pietersen a reprieve and continue to pick him at wing, notwithstanding the fact that he hasn’t played there all season, there will not be a single Sharks player in a test backline selected on form. While Pat Lambie and Lwazi Mvovo must both come into the reckoning based on talent and potential, the reality is that the competitors for their positions are generally looking better and far more consistent week in and week out and a lot of that is due to those players being in teams that are performing better on the Super Rugby stage.

The Sharks need a strong core of hardened Bok regulars to give the team its shape and my fear right now is the steady erosion of that core as Sharks players fall out of Bok contention. I’ve even heard some fans express delight at the prospect that our players might miss out, because “at least then we’ll win the Currie Cup”… we’ve seen the oblivion that lies at the end of that line of reasoning, though: it’s called the Lions. They’ve been playing awfully in Super Rugby for years now and their stadium is regularly empty. Financial troubles persist and their stars have all left, to be replaced by journeymen. That scenario is a way off still, for the Sharks, but one that starts to seem more realistic by the day – in fact, it’s not too dissimilar to what happened when Kevin Putt became our coach a decade ago.

No – for the Sharks to remain strong and healthy, to fight on level terms for a position at the top of the South African rugby pile, we need to ensure that at least 10 of our starting 15 are among the top two in their position in the country. We need to fix the problems that are preventing us from being a realistic Super Rugby contender, in order to present our players in the best possible light to the national selectors; to force them to consider each and every Sharks man as a viable test contender. Who knows, if we get this right, we might even start to fill the stadium again…


  • Great read Rob..

    It’s a sad reality, I can hear the calls for Frans Steyn starting all over again..

    Although I agree with what you say, you have to admit that it is not impossible to win this competition with the players we have. The Reds played with very few Wallabies and won the damn thing last year.

    It would make it a whole lot easier though!

  • Comment 1, posted at 24.04.12 08:30:05 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard FergusonCoach
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 1) : my point is not that we need new players though. I honestly believe that 90% of our squad are good enough to play for the Boks… Just that for whatever reason they are not consistently demonstrating that potential in the Sharks set up

  • Comment 2, posted at 24.04.12 08:39:14 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • Yup, fair comment.

    Looks like the Stormers and Bulls will dominate the Bok team, and rightly so.

    In other words, individual players’ international aspirations are being whittled away due to playing in the current set-up.

  • Comment 3, posted at 24.04.12 08:40:25 by Big Fish Reply
    Big FishAssistant coach
  • @robdylan (Comment 2) :

    So what you are saying, and what Fish is saying above, is that players will not come to the Sharks setup as it is right now, as it will hurt their long term plan of playing in the Green and Gold..

    That is rather sad..

  • Comment 4, posted at 24.04.12 08:42:55 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard FergusonCoach
  • BokSharks = Lambie(on the bench),Bismark,Mvovo(on the bench or water boy).

  • Comment 5, posted at 24.04.12 08:43:00 by NoVaseline Reply

  • Very true article Roberto, however if I was Meyer (despite the players age) I would put Marcell in that flimsy forwards contenders for a bok jersey…he has been a standout.

  • Comment 6, posted at 24.04.12 08:46:39 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner IceAssistant coach
  • Well guys, I woke up to a grey Pietermaritzburg feeling rather grey myself having to drag myself to work, and now I am feeling decidedly worse! :cry:

  • Comment 7, posted at 24.04.12 08:47:36 by Sharksmad - The Blog's Dudette Reply

    Sharksmad - The Blog's DudetteSuper Rugby player
  • @Ice (Comment 6) : I think he is unfortunately going to be pipped by Kolisi

  • Comment 8, posted at 24.04.12 08:48:27 by Bokhoring Reply

    BokhoringAssistant coach
  • @Ice (Comment 6) : he has, but let’s not fall into the WP trap just yet. Marcell is a great young talent in good form, but he’s some way off a Bok starting spot. Still lots he needs to improve on.

  • Comment 9, posted at 24.04.12 08:48:54 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 8) : Ive seen the 2 come up against each other twice already and Coetzee has come away as the better (clearly) player on both occassions.

  • Comment 10, posted at 24.04.12 08:55:23 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the SubtleAssistant coach
  • Very true article.

    Another thing I learnt with the CC final last year is that is not good enough simply to have bokke in your team, if they`re not motivated they won`t get the results, even if it is against a team with less Bokke.

    Also the fact that our boys know it`s gonna be difficult to make the bok squad didn`t really motivate them to perform better, they just gave up . . . :roll:

  • Comment 11, posted at 24.04.12 09:01:24 by Original Pierre Reply
    Original PierreSuper Rugby player
  • @Sharksmad – The Blog’s Dudette (Comment 7) : aai aai aai, Time we plan a braai when the sharks play :)

  • Comment 12, posted at 24.04.12 09:01:52 by Uli Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    Uli BoelieTeam captain
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 8) : In what sense? The fact that kolisi plays in a winning side? Would be a bit unfair. How do you think Marcell would have performed if he had supportive and players with a wanting to win around him? Just a thought though…

    @robdylan (Comment 9) : Yip – don’t want to run with this one, but my expl above comes into this argument too.

  • Comment 13, posted at 24.04.12 09:02:15 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner IceAssistant coach
  • I am not saying Kolisi is the better player at all – personally prefer Marcell myself too. Neither will shame the Bok jersey though.

  • Comment 14, posted at 24.04.12 09:02:53 by Bokhoring Reply

    BokhoringAssistant coach
  • Personally, I think Lambie has been why down this season, people seem to look past his flaws. I rate him highly but he has not been where he is supposed to be.

    Now Riaan viljoen, oh boy, that man needs to own up now. Can he actualy kick a ball for touch never mind poles…

  • Comment 15, posted at 24.04.12 09:04:13 by Uli Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    Uli BoelieTeam captain
  • @Salmonoid (Comment 10) : I agree with you. Marcell has outplayed Kolisi on every occasion the two have played against each other.

    That’s not to say I feel either of them should be in contention for a starting Bok spot yet.

  • Comment 16, posted at 24.04.12 09:07:58 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @robdylan (Comment 16) : Jacques Potgieter will pip the no 6.

  • Comment 17, posted at 24.04.12 09:09:24 by NoVaseline Reply

  • To be fair Bismarck was on fire for most of the games so far after a slow start and before his small lay-off. The best 2-3 performances from the nr2 shirt across SA so far this year have all been by him. No player will sustain top form for the duration of a four month comp. To make him out as average so far this season is quite disingenuous.

    JP will be selected on the wing because he is the best defensive 14 in the world. No other winger shifts the opposition so effectively towards touch. Look at the amount of try-saving tackles he makes (or used to make when he was a wing). Once The Plum and Bash road show pisses off I have no doubt he’ll shift back to 14.

  • Comment 18, posted at 24.04.12 09:09:27 by Dryden Reply

    Vodacom Cup player
  • @Dryden (Comment 18) : I for one would not mind seeing him back @ 14….

  • Comment 19, posted at 24.04.12 09:13:29 by Uli Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    Uli BoelieTeam captain
  • I really couldn’t care less how many Sharks are in the Bok side. As long as we win, it’s irrelevant.

    Besides, the fewer we have away on international duty the better our chances of winning the Currie Cup. We truly have become the Cheetahs.

  • Comment 20, posted at 24.04.12 09:18:08 by rhineshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Spirit of RugbyTeam captain
  • @rhineshark (Comment 20) : Every player wants to be a Bok, and if you notice your franchise sliding as far as Bok places goes, it will be at the back of your mind comes contracting time. Similarly with young promising players signing up

  • Comment 21, posted at 24.04.12 09:20:59 by Bokhoring Reply

    BokhoringAssistant coach
  • Even if Lambie was out playing Morne at fh he would not be selected at fh. Meyer has his flyhalf selected already in Morne. So it won’t be Lambie or Goosen who is actually the best fh this season in our conference.

    Lambie is a great fb anyhow and Meyer knows that and does rate him, if any of his sayings about Lambie during the wc are to go by.

    I think these are the only players right now from the Sharks that will get selected.

    Bissie. Though he is not playing well and personally think A. Strauss from the Cheetahs has outplayed him and so has Chile fromt he the Bulls in the S15.

    JPP will get selected by Meyer have no doubts and it will be at wing.

    Lambie. Will get selected and it will be at fb.

    Marcell. Will get selected. Probably on the bench but is worth a start, has been outstanding this S15.

    Jannie. Has not played that great this year, but he has played with the other Bok players before so may get a start.

    Those are our only players that will get selected by Meyer. All will start except for Marcell not cause of his play (cause he is oustanding) rather think against England Meyer is going to go with players that have played with each other before.

  • Comment 22, posted at 24.04.12 09:29:31 by Puma Reply

    PumaCurrie Cup player
  • What about Beast should he be match fit by end of May?

  • Comment 23, posted at 24.04.12 09:30:59 by Bokhoring Reply

    BokhoringAssistant coach
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 21) : Have to agree. The reason I am wondering now if Fransie will still come back to the Sharks that we are not winning games in S15 this year, as that definitely affects players getting selected for the Boks. Players always want to play in teams that will get them selected for the Boks. Well almost. There are exceptions like Juan Smith and Brussow. Well that was before the Cheetahs of this year as this years Cheetahs are playing well.

  • Comment 24, posted at 24.04.12 09:33:34 by Puma Reply

    PumaCurrie Cup player
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 23) : Jeepers forgot about the Beast. See what happens no game time and one forgets a great player.

    Beast will get selected I have no doubt. He is in the Bok Planning Camp this week. Once with some game time I am sure he will get selected. Unless the Cheetahs LH gets the nod, he has been great this season. Or Meyer might go with the Bulls LH. But think he will go with the players that have played many times together, don’t see him selecting a brand spanking new Bok team for the England games. That could change for the Rugby Championship.

  • Comment 25, posted at 24.04.12 09:36:18 by Puma Reply

    PumaCurrie Cup player
  • @NoVaseline (Comment 17) : he’s a number 7

  • Comment 26, posted at 24.04.12 09:57:54 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 21) : The Sharks don´t sign promising young players. We buy aging pensioners.

  • Comment 27, posted at 24.04.12 10:05:24 by rhineshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Spirit of RugbyTeam captain
  • Actually I think Marius Joubert is the only real pensioner signing in the last year (so some hope), but Riaan Viljoen the younger signing I had hope for is not really living up to expectations

  • Comment 28, posted at 24.04.12 10:11:42 by Bokhoring Reply

    BokhoringAssistant coach
  • Yus people are so shrouded in pessimism it’s quite scary.. Yes the sharks are playing badly at the moment but no need to get nasty and forget how incredibly talented our players are. Bismarck is the best hooker in the world by a country mile and all you have to do is ask any rugby expert with some knowledge to confirm that. Pat ‘the Rolls Royce’ Lambie is one of the most gifted youngsters in world rugby and his performances week in and week out show that, Meyer will play him at 15, who else is there? JP has long been the best wing by far in SA, sure he’s been playing 13, but it’s not like he’ll feel unassured by moving to wing. 13 is also much more difficult definsively. Willem is still struggling with injury and once he gets back to his best, I’m sure he’ll be running over everyone to get his bok jersey. Lwazi has shown this year his freakish pace and Heyneke won’t ignore this, Lazi for the green and gold! Sykes again will be in the mix due to a derth of no. 4′s in SA. Anyway that’s my rant, cheers.

  • Comment 29, posted at 24.04.12 11:39:22 by rumps Reply

    Under 21 player
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 28) : Riaan Viljoen can hardly be described as a young signing. Younger yes, but not in the Lambie or O´Connor range. I think Viljoen was 28 when he came to Durban.

  • Comment 30, posted at 24.04.12 11:42:06 by rhineshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Spirit of RugbyTeam captain
  • Sorry, also forgot to mention Beast (once he fully returns) and Jannie are permenant fixtures in any bok outfit too..

  • Comment 31, posted at 24.04.12 11:42:45 by rumps Reply

    Under 21 player
  • @robdylan (Comment 26) : i was thinking like a kiwi – 7 he is then..

  • Comment 32, posted at 24.04.12 11:55:18 by NoVaseline Reply

  • @rumps (Comment 31) : jannie is playing like he believes it, anyway…

  • Comment 33, posted at 24.04.12 11:55:19 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @rhineshark (Comment 30) : Somewhere I had the idea he was 25 – I see he is 29. Well in the Sharks context that is a younger signing :shock:

  • Comment 34, posted at 24.04.12 12:03:16 by Bokhoring Reply

    BokhoringAssistant coach
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 34) : JIP, in the Sharks context signing Viljoen is like signing Tendulkar all those years ago. :twisted:

  • Comment 35, posted at 24.04.12 12:43:20 by rhineshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Spirit of RugbyTeam captain

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