robdylan

Silver linings to Sharks injury cloud


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 14 Apr 2014 at 12:15
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While many teams would be floored by a serious injury to their second-choice flyhalf just weeks after their first-choice had been ruled out for the year, for the Sharks, Saturday’s unfortunate injury to Fred Zeilinga open up a number of options for the coaching staff, most of which are rather enticing indeed.

Before we get too excited about what might eventuate, though, let’s take a minute or two to wish Fred well; we’re hoping that his hamstring injury isn’t serious enough to cause him to miss out on a tour spot, even if it does look set to sideline him for at least the two home games to come. Fred is a wonderfully composed and talented young man who has stepped admirably into the breach caused by Pat Lambie’s bicep tear and the former has only enhanced his standing over the last two weeks.

Injuries happen, though and the team needs to adapt and move on.

Now, perhaps the most obvious solution – and the one which most won’t look beyond – is simply to ask Fran Steyn to wear the ten jersey until Zeilinga recovers (or perhaps longer if he makes a decent go of it). We’ve seen enough of Steyn at flyhalf this season (for one reason or another) to be pretty confident that he’ll do a far better job in that position now than was the case earlier in his career. His big boot alone, whether out of hand or off the tee, has proved crucial for the Sharks already this season and as a key “go-to man” in the backline, it would be a safe option indeed to let him settle at pivot.

Adding further to the attractiveness of this option is the superb depth at inside centre. Heimar Williams continues to grow in stature as a more than capable option at this level, while Jake White has also hinted at asking Paul Jordaan to reprise a role in the number 12 jersey that he played with aplomb as a younger man. The precocious talents of Andre Esterhuizen remain untapped as well and you really feel that whichever choice the Sharks make here will be the right one.

That said, the significantly bigger opportunity, to my mind, lies in not asking Steyn to do a holding job at all. Frans Steyn is a fine inside centre – perhaps the best we have in the country at present – with his array of skills making him stand out in that position. The fact that Steyn can play flyhalf makes him a better centre, to my mind, rather than implying that he should necessarily play flyhalf.

Just as the injury to Lambie offered Zeilinga the chance to step up (and a brave move that was, given that Steyn could so easily have been shifted to ten weeks ago), I feel that Zeilinga’s injury could now open the door for Tim Swiel to do the same. I was a little critical of Swiel’s game at flyhalf when the Sharks lost to the Bulls last month, perhaps not giving enough importance to impossibility of the job he was asked to do on the day. He’s now benefited from a few great Vodacom Cup outings and is in superb form. He’s an out-and-out flyhalf, he’s a reliable place-kicker, he’s a game breaker and he’s a hugely important player for the Sharks moving forward.

Just as the presence of Charl McLeod on one side and Steyn on the other did wonders to ease Fred Zeilinga into Super Rugby, those same players, if left alone, could ease Swiel’s passage into the big leagues. If in the process we end up further increasing competition in the squad – and the pressure on both Lambie and Zeilinga to be on top of their own games at all times – so much the better for the Sharks as a whole.

My feeling is that if the Sharks want to play it safe, they will go with Steyn and Williams. I don’t feel, though, that we need to play it safe against the Cheetahs this weekend. Apart from the win – which must count as a given – I would imagine a four-try bonus point must be very high on the list of objectives for the Sharks for Saturday. My feeling is that Tim Swiel at flyhalf probably makes that result slightly more likely than Frans Steyn does.

Once again, though, for the coaches, it comes down to making a gut feel choice between two incredibly good options. What a great time to be a Shark!



54 Comments

  • Yes Steyn at 10 and Heimar at 12 is the safe option, but starting with Swiel at 10 and Heimar on the bench could afford JW the chance to revert to the safe option should Swiel struggle.

  • Comment 1, posted at 14.04.14 12:25:58 by JD Reply
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  • Hey Rob busy morning for you posting all the new articles. Thanx made a slow Monday at work much more fun.

  • Comment 2, posted at 14.04.14 12:28:06 by JD Reply
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  • I’d like to see Swiel given the opportunity although I’d be fine with Steyn at 10 too. Just think Steyn is a better 12 than 10.

  • Comment 3, posted at 14.04.14 12:29:42 by vanmartin Reply
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  • tell you what, Tim is champing at the bit to get an opportunity to start.

  • Comment 4, posted at 14.04.14 12:43:32 by robdylan Reply
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  • I think we should use this game to do a little experimentation. I would like to see adriaanse and possibly cooper start. I would also consider starting keegan or tera at 8. As for the backline, I would like to see either swiel or esterhuizen start with steyn at either 10 or 12. A centre combination of esterhuizen and sithole excites me!Then obviously have your safe first choice players on the bench should we need them ie bizzy, jannie, kanko, heimar/jordaan etc.

  • Comment 5, posted at 14.04.14 12:55:03 by woody Reply
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    woodyUnder 21 player
     
  • Tough choice!

    I wouldn’t complain about either Frans at 10 with Jordaan at 12, or Swiel at 10 with Frans at 12.

    Williams is another who could step in at 12 if necessary.

  • Comment 6, posted at 14.04.14 13:00:15 by Big Fish Reply
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    Big FishAssistant coach
     
  • What is the reason Paul Jordaan pulled out of the Lion’s game? Is he available for this weekend?

  • Comment 7, posted at 14.04.14 13:02:38 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • Guys would you believe that this is the same team that had to import Goode from England at fly half and have Marius Joubert at centre? Happy days!

  • Comment 8, posted at 14.04.14 13:02:44 by Sharksmad - The Blog's Dudette Reply

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  • @Sharksmad – The Blog’s Dudette (Comment 8) :
    Also the same team that couldn’t find a starting spot for Mvovo and were on the verge of losing Sbura cos nobody rated him enough.

  • Comment 9, posted at 14.04.14 13:07:23 by Big Fish Reply
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  • @Sharksmad – The Blog’s Dudette (Comment 8) : thanks for reminding me, I’m still trying to erase that memory ;-P

  • Comment 10, posted at 14.04.14 13:09:00 by JD Reply
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  • @woody (Comment 5) : Tera has picked up a hammy injury as well, so doubt we’ll see him ahead of the tour.

  • Comment 11, posted at 14.04.14 13:09:09 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 7) : I don’t know for sure, but I assume his knee probably wasn’t 100%. He must have been very close, though, so I’m sure he’d be ok for this weekend.

    I know the way Jake thinks. He’ll want to play as many Grey boys as he can against the cheetahs because I’m sure he feels there’s a psychological advantage in doing so.

  • Comment 12, posted at 14.04.14 13:10:08 by robdylan Reply
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  • I say lets back the young gun at 10 and give Swiel a run. Cheetahs is not in good form at all, and will do Tim’s confidence the world of good if he has a cracker. If Tim does go on to deliver the goods, I can see him and Fred pushing each other later on, which can only be good for the Sharks as a whole. :razz:

  • Comment 13, posted at 14.04.14 13:23:27 by HoneyBadger Reply

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  • @HoneyBadger (Comment 13) : I see you are a fan of the guy with the best post-match interviews ever.

    I think the Cheetahs are going to come out at the Sharks pretty much like the Lions did. The SA teams are not in awe of each other – not like they seem to be with especially the big name Kiwi teams.

  • Comment 14, posted at 14.04.14 13:29:55 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • I would start Swiel at 10. Rewarding Vodacom Cup form and giving a young player another oppurtunity.

  • Comment 15, posted at 14.04.14 13:31:55 by war1 Reply
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    war1Super Rugby player
     
  • Agree with you Rob, would like to see Tim get another go, and hopefully he can step up and show that he can more than adequately plug the gap until Fred returns.

  • Comment 16, posted at 14.04.14 13:32:42 by stevovo Reply
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  • For now, Steyn at 10. However seeing him play 10 for us has highlighted some of his limitations; he tends to kill players and space with his skip passing and he stands a bit deep.

    Jordaan can thank his lucky stars Zeilinga got injured, because Sithole has been too good to drop.

    I think White may try Jordaan at 10 in the last 20 minutes of the game and shift Steyn to 12.

  • Comment 17, posted at 14.04.14 13:40:17 by Talent Reply
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    TalentCurrie Cup player
     
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 14) : LOL! I am, yes. Just a pity the guy cost me my GSP on superbru with that intercept try of his against the tahs on Saturday. Bummer. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 18, posted at 14.04.14 13:44:17 by HoneyBadger Reply

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  • In the absence of Zeilinga I wouldn’t mind trying Jordaan at 10.
    In his first few games he scored nearly a try a game.

    I haven’t been convinced by Swiel to be honest, he is still in need of, at the very least, Currie Cup experience.

  • Comment 19, posted at 14.04.14 13:45:44 by Talent Reply
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    TalentCurrie Cup player
     
  • Did you guys catch the post match studio chat, very interseting that Naas and Nick Mallet would move Steyn to flyhalf asap. I got the impression from Naas that Frans would also be his choice as 10 for the Boks. Ashwin was of the view that Sbura is coming into his own because he has Frans beside him which would be negated if Steyn went to 10.

  • Comment 20, posted at 14.04.14 13:57:45 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 12) : ja boet the reason for playing all the Grey players is they sleep at home with their parents so Sharks safes money on hotel fees. ;-P

  • Comment 21, posted at 14.04.14 14:23:44 by JD Reply
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  • For all of you forgetting the site rules, we do not discuss politics here.

  • Comment 22, posted at 14.04.14 14:40:01 by robdylan Reply
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  • @woody (Comment 23) : May I suggest that you read the post above yours and move to a different topic?

  • Comment 23, posted at 14.04.14 15:16:30 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 23) : Sorry

  • Comment 24, posted at 14.04.14 15:20:45 by woody Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 24) : )00ps, sorry Rob, very tongue in cheek

  • Comment 25, posted at 14.04.14 15:22:27 by Bayshark Reply

    BaysharkCurrie Cup player
     
  • don’t worry guys. I’m inflexible about that rule, though, for everyone’s good!

  • Comment 26, posted at 14.04.14 15:31:36 by robdylan Reply
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  • Is it just me that thinks Steyn is a terrible flyhalf?
    In both games he moved to 10 this season he stopped attacking the gain line and his only move was the skip pass.
    While he is a machine defensively I would much rather have him at 12.
    Did no one else notice how often we broke the defensive line out wide and how many lions defenders were there covering? this is completely due to the defence reading the skip pass(how could they not).

  • Comment 27, posted at 14.04.14 15:34:40 by garyxxl Reply

    garyxxlUnder 19 player
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 12) : Don’t know but at the game he had some strapping on his hammy.

  • Comment 28, posted at 14.04.14 15:47:08 by GreatSharksays Reply

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  • @garyxxl (Comment 29) : I wouldn’t say terrible. He’s above average at 10 but not spectacular. But I agree with everything you said

  • Comment 29, posted at 14.04.14 17:25:22 by woody Reply
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  • yes Start with Swiel at 10 (with Steyn at 12) or Esterhuizen at 12 (with Steyn on 10) with the other player coming off the bench. They are both ready for SR and Steyn also shall also need a brake during or after the tour.

  • Comment 30, posted at 14.04.14 18:09:20 by KILLER SHARK Reply
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  • @garyxxl (Comment 27) : I do not see it that way. Our game plan was to play out wide and we stuck to that but a few badly executed passes by Steyn, Williams and Fred dropped the ball on the floor between players and then a couple of knocks by Jannie, Kanko, Charl, Mvovo and Odwa stopped our momentum. Then the Lions opted to give away penalties when we broke through and can close to their line.
    We breached them plenty but failed to finish off because of poor handling. Probably game rust

  • Comment 31, posted at 14.04.14 18:15:10 by KILLER SHARK Reply
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  • Steyn 10, Andre 12, Sithole 13…….give it a bash lets see. Know it’s inexperience but tell you this Andre lad will step up.

  • Comment 32, posted at 14.04.14 20:06:33 by Lieplapper Reply

    LieplapperVodacom Cup player
     
  • McLoed is a scrummy who likes to generate go forward ball and Lambie and Fred love getting the ball in motion. So does Alberts and Deysel. I think it would be a great place for Swiel to show his abilities and settle in. He will most certainly open up the gaps or force gaps for Sithole to breach. With Steyn at 12 and Esterhuizen or Jordaan on the bench we should have a potent attack. Then just to starve the running cheetahs of ball and we are home.
    Swiel came into a lousy game plan at Loftus and received little and deep static ball and kicked poorly because of this. I would go with Swiel.

  • Comment 33, posted at 14.04.14 21:54:38 by KILLER SHARK Reply
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  • @KILLER SHARK (Comment 31) : You have to earn space out wide. No use for our back 3 to break the line when their is a second and third line of defence already lined up.
    The way this is done is by having multiple threats, not only out wide. If Steyn varied his play with some inside passes, some runs from forwards/centres either side of him or some runs from himself(he is handy at getting over the gain line) then our entire attack will have them guessing and the time he does skip pass will have the back 3 in some space.

  • Comment 34, posted at 15.04.14 06:16:30 by garyxxl Reply

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  • @garyxxl (Comment 34) : To me “earning the right” is just a fashion statement of the times. Remember what the Brumbies did to us last year by going against the rule and ran in 4 tries before we found our feet?
    It was exactly what JW was going for and it put the Lions on the back foot. If we handled better and off loaded more we would have reaped more rewards. We got 6 points quickly. A great team can do both. The cheetahs (bad defense) and chiefs have mastered this. We are almost there.

  • Comment 35, posted at 15.04.14 07:35:48 by KILLER SHARK Reply
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  • Lol it amazes me how everyone always wants to push the young players to start, then complain when they get injured. You would think this was the sharksacademyworld.co.za forums….. I am all for young talent, but they need to develop! The average age of the Sharks would be 18 if everyone here was the selection panel.

  • Comment 36, posted at 15.04.14 07:42:50 by Seth101 Reply
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  • @KILLER SHARK (Comment 35) : If I recall correctly the Brumbies did not even bother going wide – mostly went straight through the middle.

  • Comment 37, posted at 15.04.14 08:31:10 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • Call me conservative but I ll go for the safe option till we are in the clear and then give Swiel 30 minutes. He s an unkown factor, for us as well as Naka … Might pay off?

  • Comment 38, posted at 15.04.14 09:17:18 by Original Pierre Reply
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  • @Seth101 (Comment 36) : you have a point and I agree with it.

    I hope you don’t consider my measured assessment that Swiel should start to fall into this category.

    After all, I am probably the main antagonist when it comes to the “just start Esterhuizen” brigade.

  • Comment 39, posted at 15.04.14 09:19:24 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 39) : Sharks need to find a role for both Jordaan and Sithole too.

  • Comment 40, posted at 15.04.14 09:28:35 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 39) : No I agree, I would prefer Swiel on the bench with Frans starting, just because he brings experience, which our backline needs.

    Its the fact that I know some of the young players with the Sharks and other unions that I am against them being rushed into playing at top level to early. Look at what happen to Emiel, one knee injury, and his rugby career was over.

    I agree these young guys have talent, but the Frans Steyn example is unique not the norm. Let these guys develop so that they can play good rugby for a long health career.

  • Comment 41, posted at 15.04.14 09:33:19 by Seth101 Reply
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  • @Seth101 (Comment 41) : But then again, if Swiel is going to get a start, rather now, at home, against the Cheetahs. On tour we need experience and confidence.

  • Comment 42, posted at 15.04.14 09:38:07 by Seth101 Reply
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  • @Seth101 (Comment 41) : hang on though… Emil hurt his knee in a club game.

  • Comment 43, posted at 15.04.14 09:39:27 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 43) : Yes I know, my point is more the effect rugby and injuries can have on a young body…. That happened in a club game, and SuperRugby is even more physical.

  • Comment 44, posted at 15.04.14 09:49:10 by Seth101 Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 43) : Another example would be Cedric Mkize (not sure on spelling). Yes these are fluke injuries and more serious then most, but are examples of what can happen….

  • Comment 45, posted at 15.04.14 09:52:34 by Seth101 Reply
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  • @Seth101 (Comment 47) : Cedric was in a vehicle accident.

  • Comment 46, posted at 15.04.14 10:02:09 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 46) : Ok I stand corrected, I was fairly young, for some reason thought it was a rugby injury.

  • Comment 47, posted at 15.04.14 10:05:25 by Seth101 Reply
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  • @Seth101 (Comment 47) : But my point still stands :P

  • Comment 48, posted at 15.04.14 10:05:52 by Seth101 Reply
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  • @Seth101 (Comment 48) : it’s teetering though… :)

  • Comment 49, posted at 15.04.14 10:14:48 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 49) : Will quit while in ahead… Kind of :P about time I payed attention to my lecturer any way :P

  • Comment 50, posted at 15.04.14 10:19:27 by Seth101 Reply
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  • @Seth101 (Comment 36) : So you want to play the older established players to protect the younger ones from injury?

  • Comment 51, posted at 15.04.14 13:17:43 by garyxxl Reply

    garyxxlUnder 19 player
     
  • @garyxxl (Comment 51) : @Seth101 (Comment 36) : youngsters need to be given chances if they deserve it, but that must be done very carefully whilst managing each player’s wellbeing.

  • Comment 52, posted at 15.04.14 22:46:39 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 52) : While I agree with them given chances if they deserve I think young players must be immersed in playing at whatever level as much as possible. They are still learning there game at that age.
    Older players should be carefully managed.

  • Comment 53, posted at 16.04.14 07:24:19 by garyxxl Reply

    garyxxlUnder 19 player
     
  • we must watch out that too many options don,t become as bad as no options.

  • Comment 54, posted at 16.04.14 10:38:16 by Southern_Shark Reply
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