robdylan

Sharks changes – yes, no, maybe?


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 10 Sep 2014 at 15:45
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The Sharks have made a fair few changes to their match 22 for this weekend’s outing against the Cheetahs. While many will argue that change is indeed needed after a poor outing against Griquas, there are always pro’s and cons to this sort of selection decision.

Let’s talk in general terms first; we know that rugby is a team game and one where combinations are important. It’s hard for your lineout to function at 100% efficiency if you’re changing your hooker/lock combinations every week, just as it’s unlikely you’ll have much synergy on attack unless your flyhalf and inside centre have the benefit of continuity – the ability to form a good understanding over the course of several games together.

If we look at the season so far, I think we have to acknowledge that for one reason or another (not always form related) too many of these key combinations have been disrupted from week to week and I’m sure that – reactions to losses aside – the coaches must be really wishing and praying for an opportunity to keep the same men together for a few weeks.

Let’s look at the specific changes made this week.

Dale Chadwick in for Thomas du Toit
There’s a bit of an embarrassment of riches at loosehead, with both players clearly among the best forwards so far this season. I believe that Thomas is carrying a niggle, hence the decision to bench him. What’s more, he can cover tighthead in an emergency, which is vital this week given an injury to Matt Stevens. If it weren’t for the injury, I’d have said Thomas deserved another start, Dale’s good form the week before notwithstanding.

Marco Wentzel in for Wiehan Hay
Yet another lock injury means yet another lock combination – the sixth in six matches. Marco is not a natural 4 (by his own admission) but will form a mobile partnership with Stephan Lewies that shouldn’t battle to dominate the lineout contest. Two changes in the tight five, though, mean the Sharks will not take much continuity into the scrum battle, which is a pity. Bringing Etienne Oosthuizen back into the mix at lock this week probably wouldn’t have been the right call, since we lack options at 7 and Etienne is actually improving there week by week.

Lionel Cronje for Fred Zeilinga
Perhaps the big talking point here is not the change in flyhalf, but rather the decision not to change the scrumhalf. Fred, it must be said, has been poor and has failed to dictate matters since the opening win over Griquas, but we need to compare and contrast this form to the way we know he can play, based on last year. I don’t personally have a lot of faith in Cronje and would honestly have preferred to see Fred given one more chance to impress, hopefully with a nippier and more accurate scrumhalf (Cameron Wright or perhaps Stefan Ungerer) on his inside. If there had been a singificantly, demonstrably better flyhalf waiting in the wings, I’d perhaps back the call to drop Fred. I don’t consider that to be the case presently.

Andre Esterhuizen for Heimar Williams
The messages re Esterhuizen continue to be mixed, with talk that he would not be considered as a centre by the senior coaches seemingly not on the mark. Williams played well enough to warrant another chance, but picked up an injury against Griquas, hence the need to change. Had it not been for that injury, I’d have wanted the Affies boy to start again, but Esterhuizen is an impressive youngster who now has a big chance to step up. Let’s hope he takes that chance.

S’bura Sithole shifted to 13 for Paul Jordaan
The best possible move. Sithole is wasted at wing and needs continuity in this position in order to push for a Bok place. Jordaan has looked out of sorts this Currie Cup campaign and while the coaches should definitely have a clear objective to get him back into form, they should not do that at the expense of Sithole’s development at 13. Sithole and Esterhuizen, as a combination, could be devastating on attack, provided the halfbacks can get them some ball with which to do so.

Tonderai Chavhange in at 11
Very good to see Tondie back and another hugely positive selection. He has shown a hunger this season that belies his age and experience and he, along with Sithole, are the key strike runners in the backline.

Tim Swiel for Jaco van Tonder
I don’t feel that Jaco deserved to be dropped, based on what we saw. He was defensively incredibly good and varied his play on attack, despite a few individual errors. That said, Swiel is a player with huge flair and with the Sharks lacking X-factor, I understand the temptation to give him a shot. Had it been me making the call, I would have left Jaco in the side and given Tim another run off the bench.

The bench
The noteworthy inclusions this week are Khaya Majola, who will hopefully earn a debut cap and SP Marais. I’m very supportive of the former’s inclusion (although injury has really left the coaches with no other options anyway). Majola looked good as an age-group player and should bring some verve later on, even if his size makes it unlikely he can be used anywhere other than openside. Marais, on the other hand, is a better player than the one we’ve seen this Currie Cup season. He was given a week off to clear his head and only time will tell whether that week has had the desired effect. We’ll all be backing him to deliver the sort of good performance of which we know he is capable.



54 Comments

  • I honestly don’t have a lot of faith in these players that moves from union to union (Cronje 6 unions in 5 years) without settling somewhere eventually. I would also rather have persevered with Zeilinga, canned Hoffmann and used Ungerer and Wright.

  • Comment 1, posted at 10.09.14 15:55:55 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • Yes, no, maybe sums it up! I agree that Jaco did not deserve to be dropped. Would have preferred him to start with Swiel maybe taking the FH position (bench or start). Fred, despite how much I rate him, might benefit from a bit of R&R?

    Really hope SP comes back with a vengeance.

  • Comment 2, posted at 10.09.14 16:05:36 by gregkaos Reply
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  • Esterhuizen, Sithole, Tonderai – Thumbs up

    The rest of the changes….bleh

  • Comment 3, posted at 10.09.14 16:15:58 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • I really want the coaches to give Swiel a good run to settle down and prove himself, as I feel that we need X factor players above all else at the moment in South Africa. We have a lot of the same, but very few players that have not had the creativity coached out of them.

    Give him game time and hopefully he will reward us with special rugby moments into the future.

  • Comment 4, posted at 10.09.14 16:18:06 by Bump Reply

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  • what do you guys think of the article format?

  • Comment 5, posted at 10.09.14 16:21:37 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Bump (Comment 4) : If he can bring a few Willie moments to the Sharks, I will excuse him tackling like Willie

  • Comment 6, posted at 10.09.14 16:21:55 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • what has happened to our other junior bok scrumhalf?

  • Comment 7, posted at 10.09.14 16:22:08 by Dunx Reply

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  • @Dunx (Comment 7) : Hanco Venter is back with the under 21s

  • Comment 8, posted at 10.09.14 16:23:02 by robdylan Reply
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  • Odwa needs to be tried at fullback otherwise him at wing isnt pacy but solid.

  • Comment 9, posted at 10.09.14 16:23:25 by Dunx Reply

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  • @Dunx (Comment 9) : He did very well under the high ball against the Kwas.

  • Comment 10, posted at 10.09.14 16:26:21 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 5) : like

  • Comment 11, posted at 10.09.14 16:27:13 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @Dunx (Comment 9) : you know, there’s a part of me that thinks pace might be even more important at fullback than it is at wing. I’m not sure if I’m right about that, but it’s a strong feeling.

  • Comment 12, posted at 10.09.14 16:29:42 by robdylan Reply
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  • OK, let me try to understand Sharks rugby.

    Esterhuizen plays in the first Sharks game of the season against Saracens and has a very decent outing, including scoring a try. He then goes off to New Zealand with the Baby Boks and is one of the better players in the backline. Back home, he doesn’t make the CC squad so he plays for the Sharks U/21 side, where he gets moved to flank, because apparently his development as a centre isn’t progressing as well as it should. Next thing you know, Esterhuizen gets a start at inside centre for the CC side.

    WTF am I missing?

  • Comment 13, posted at 10.09.14 16:33:45 by Spirit of Rugby Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 12) : Frans and Pat have both done well at 15 at international level, and neither is a speed merchant.

  • Comment 14, posted at 10.09.14 16:34:08 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 5) : Nice. You been reading up on writing for the web? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 15, posted at 10.09.14 16:35:24 by Spirit of Rugby Reply
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  • @Spirit of Rugby (Comment 13) : I’m just as confused as you

  • Comment 16, posted at 10.09.14 17:02:38 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Spirit of Rugby (Comment 15) : no, why?

  • Comment 17, posted at 10.09.14 17:02:58 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 17) : The way you did your article with the bold sub headings and short paragraphs is one of the methods used, which make it easier for people to read on the web. :cool:

  • Comment 18, posted at 10.09.14 17:13:47 by Spirit of Rugby Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 5) : I like the format of the article…

  • Comment 19, posted at 10.09.14 17:19:40 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @Spirit of Rugby (Comment 13) : Agreed…but I am glad he is finally getting a shot. I hope he does well!!

  • Comment 20, posted at 10.09.14 17:21:54 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @pastorshark (Comment 20) : For sure! Me too. If I was coach he would have been in my squad from the start.

  • Comment 21, posted at 10.09.14 17:24:15 by Spirit of Rugby Reply
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  • Sjoe…happy about Esterhuizen, Sithole, Chavanga…don’t know about Cronje, Swiel…would have liked to see Ungerer! I suppose we will wait and see!

  • Comment 22, posted at 10.09.14 17:26:04 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @Spirit of Rugby (Comment 21) : Same here…

  • Comment 23, posted at 10.09.14 17:28:27 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @Spirit of Rugby (Comment 18) : oh right…. and you tell me this NOW (6 years later) :)

  • Comment 24, posted at 10.09.14 17:31:18 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 24) : Esterhuizen’s “attitude problem” been resolved then? Eish talk about mixed messages, I feel for the guy, he was superb in the Junior RWC.

  • Comment 25, posted at 10.09.14 18:11:10 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 24) : I only did the course recently. Would have been a disaster if I tried to advise you before. :lol:

    There’s a free course from an Aussie institution that you can do at your own pace.

    https://www.open2study.com/courses/writing-for-the-web-130114

  • Comment 26, posted at 10.09.14 18:42:41 by Spirit of Rugby Reply
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  • I think I’ll look at that myself…thanks!

  • Comment 27, posted at 10.09.14 20:02:45 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 25) : who knows dude, who knows?

  • Comment 28, posted at 10.09.14 20:43:19 by robdylan Reply
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  • Ok so I will watch the Sharks game on Saturday as at last the big changes were made that was needed.!!!!!! I like this team and I think they could do well.

  • Comment 29, posted at 10.09.14 21:15:08 by JD Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 28) : I just hope he is able to shut everyone up with a superb performance this weekend. How long before we get to see Tyler Fisher again?

  • Comment 30, posted at 10.09.14 21:28:05 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 28) : maybe the scare worked?!?!?!

  • Comment 31, posted at 10.09.14 21:36:19 by JD Reply
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  • it will soon be. he will get a chance too start this week.

  • Comment 32, posted at 10.09.14 21:49:06 by Justin Koelman Reply

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  • The cynic in me wants to quote John Robbie here : ” Shuffling the Deck Chairs on the Titanic ” . . . .

    The eternal Sharks supporter in me is excited about our new mid field combination! Although I probably would`ve accommodated Paul Jordaan on the wing somewhere or at least on the bench.

  • Comment 33, posted at 10.09.14 22:55:59 by Original Pierre Reply
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  • Great article. Thanks, Rob!

  • Comment 34, posted at 11.09.14 03:00:02 by [email protected] Reply

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  • Rob, I also don’t like the Lionel for Fred swap. It almost feels as if the Sharks want to prove that their acquisition of Hofmann and Cronje were good ones. I think Wright needed to start again and Ungerer should also be brought into the mix now that he is back from injury.

  • Comment 35, posted at 11.09.14 08:35:05 by Letgo Reply
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  • I feel for Heimar, but must say that I am quite intrigued to see Esterhuizen get a start. Lets see what he is made of. I for one, hope that he does well.

  • Comment 36, posted at 11.09.14 08:38:26 by Letgo Reply
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  • Paul needed a break, but I completely agree, when he is back next week they need to be smart about where they use him.

    Please let them read some of our comments, because Fullback could just be an option and I also don’t think Sithole should be shifted to the wing.

    Lets wait and see.

  • Comment 37, posted at 11.09.14 08:41:38 by Letgo Reply
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  • I suppose Jaco now knows that it is time to find another union. I really thought they would give him at least two games. I didn’t think he had a bad game at all.

    Tim is another of those buys the Sharks are trying to sell to us. I hope he can live up to the hype, but so far he really has been pretty underwhelming – including the games I’ve seen him play for the u/21′s and now he gets another shot at senior rugby. At least this time their looking at fullback.

  • Comment 38, posted at 11.09.14 08:44:33 by Letgo Reply
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  • I’m excited to see what Majola can do. I remember him as an energetic player from his junior rugby. We don’t have an open sider to cover Marcel if Majola can’t produce the goods.

  • Comment 39, posted at 11.09.14 08:46:30 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 35) : I get that same feeling.

    I like Wright’s pass from the base – no two step needed – no jogging to the flyhalf to hand him the ball.

  • Comment 40, posted at 11.09.14 09:02:48 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 39) : kleinhans?

  • Comment 41, posted at 11.09.14 09:20:28 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 25) : it appears that a new leaf has been turned over. Maybe the flank move was a good wake-up call.

  • Comment 42, posted at 11.09.14 09:21:32 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 42) : Maybe “leaf” is not the best idiom under the circumstances. People may just get the wrong idea. :lol:

  • Comment 43, posted at 11.09.14 09:22:44 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • Like the format.
    Does anyone know when Pieter Steph will be back.
    I heard that he would make an appearence in the latter stages of the CC

  • Comment 44, posted at 11.09.14 09:29:30 by DaveB Reply

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  • @DaveB (Comment 44) : you heard wrong. He was ruled out for the entire season. That hasn’t changed.

  • Comment 45, posted at 11.09.14 09:45:04 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 41) :

    Is he also a open side, playing at blind side this CC?

    Didn’t realize.

  • Comment 46, posted at 11.09.14 10:04:53 by Letgo Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 42) : That’s what I’m hoping!

  • Comment 47, posted at 11.09.14 10:54:20 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 43) : :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  • Comment 48, posted at 11.09.14 10:54:46 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 46) : Yes, definitely an open side…that he was playing blind side goes to show how thin we are at No. 7!

  • Comment 49, posted at 11.09.14 10:55:51 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @pastorshark (Comment 49) :

    We need to pick up a good player in this position. It doesn’t seem like we have someone in our junior ranks ready to make the step up.

    I think WP has way to many loosies and the Bulls are also sitting with spares after getting a few experienced Kings and Cheetahs.

    The Lions are also always rotating between quality loosies.

    It’s an easy spot to fill in SA, we have way to many great loosies, we just have to pick one up that is looking for a change.

  • Comment 50, posted at 11.09.14 11:18:37 by Letgo Reply
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  • @pastorshark (Comment 49) : Amazing how things change. We always have had plenty of blindside options and always struggled to find openside. Now plenty of opensides coming through and short on quality blindsides.

  • Comment 51, posted at 11.09.14 11:29:19 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @Spirit of Rugby (Comment 13) : you missing the monkey in the jungle business that is the Sharks at the moment

  • Comment 52, posted at 11.09.14 21:17:05 by benji Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 50) : Agreed…although I would like to see Meyer get at least a chance in the remainder of the Currie Cup…but we desperately need strengthening here before Super Rugby…

  • Comment 53, posted at 11.09.14 21:46:32 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 51) : Yup…

  • Comment 54, posted at 11.09.14 21:47:34 by pastorshark Reply
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