robdylan

Invest in the future


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 15 Apr 2015 at 09:54
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

One of my most frequent criticism of the Sharks during the Plumtree era – and perhaps the single biggest reason that his untimely demise met with my approval at the time – related to his short term thinking when selecting his teams. Allow me to elaborate…

My feeling, one established over a number of years and backed up by overwhelming evidence, was that Plumtree (results-focused as he was) tended to focus all his energies on the present, without too much regard to the future. That would mean always selecting the most experienced players he could find for the coming week’s match and not giving much thought to blooding those youngsters who would be needed in the years to come. As an example (in an era when he was blessed with quality loose forwards in abundance) you’d always back Plum to rather play Jean Deysel at lock than back a young player like Jandre Marais – when the chips were down.

This year’s Sharks are in a rather tricky situation, of course; results aren’t going their way and in this World Cup year, the looming spectre of mass exodus creates major uncertainty. One gets the feeling, in a lot of ways, that the Sharks are a team full of stars that peaked a year or two ago and are now grimly holding on for one last World Cup – and a nice foreign payday thereafter.

My approach to this is simple; invest in the future and do it now. Start to build the core of the next great Sharks team around the great youngsters already in the set up. Many of those boys have come up through the ranks and must surely be better positioned to establish a “Sharks culture” than the older (dare I say “journeyman”) players currently picked ahead of them?

We have three of the best young scrumhalves in the country on our books (and that’s not including Cobus Reinach) but not a one of them can get anywhere near the Super Rugby side because we continue to pick Conrad Hoffmann, a player who is certainly not going to be around in two years’ time. Andre Esterhuizen and S’bura Sithole – many people’s picks as a centre combination that can serve the Sharks well for years to come – should be picked together now and allowed to form that partnership. We’ve already bemoaned the loss of quality young tightheads while we continue to invest in Matt Stevens; why is Marne Coetzee (the last Baby Bok 3 left in our system) not being backed instead?

The list goes on.

It’s time for the new Sharks coaches to show that they’ve learned from the mistakes of the old. In 2016 we face a new challenge as Super Rugby changes again. Why not get the jump on our competitors and start now with the process of building a new team that can dominate that competition for years to come?



53 Comments

  • Bloody well said and I can’t agree more! Marais at hooker has shown what he can do, making me feel a lot better about Bissie leaving after the WC.

    Would be awesome if they give the young guys a run, even if it’s from the bench.

  • Comment 1, posted at 15.04.15 09:57:52 by Dragnipur Reply
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  • I like and I agree

  • Comment 2, posted at 15.04.15 09:58:01 by JarsonX Reply
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  • I really wish we hadn’t signed Claassens.

    get rid of him and Hoffmann and let Ungerer and Wright alternate as Cobus’ backup.

  • Comment 3, posted at 15.04.15 09:59:11 by robdylan Reply
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  • Honestly I’d play Ungerer ahead of Reinach. Even though there are much bigger problems at the moment, there is still the issue of Reinach being more of a wing than a scrumhalf and his slow passing ruins so much good attacking ball

  • Comment 4, posted at 15.04.15 10:07:41 by woody Reply
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  • I don’t think we will ever win a super trophy unless we build up a decent squad. So not only should we invest in the younger players, but we also need to get back to a system of carefully managed rotation.

    The great teams don’t fall apart when their star lock / flyhalf is injured – they always seem to have someone in the system that can slot in seamlessly without even disrupting the team.

  • Comment 5, posted at 15.04.15 10:07:45 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • Please and thank you.

  • Comment 6, posted at 15.04.15 10:11:51 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @woody (Comment 4) : I have to say I would need to see more of Ungerer at this level before I would simply move Reinach down the pecking order. He was no improvement in the game where he subbed Reinach – making as many mistakes and poor passes. However he needs to get a lot more super time, but lets give him time to settle in from the bench.

  • Comment 7, posted at 15.04.15 10:15:42 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 3) : Brilliant article Rob.

    I’m all for bringing in a guy to mentor the youngsters, like Wentzel has done. He is there if needed to play, but is a support structure and a mentor first and foremost.

    @Bokhoring (Comment 5) : We have not yet done that rotation in a planned way. We have rotated our Boks out when we have to and we have changed due to injury or loss of form, other than that we tend to persist with the same team.

  • Comment 8, posted at 15.04.15 10:17:08 by StevieS Reply
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  • I’d love it if they gave one young guy a week a shot from the bench.

  • Comment 9, posted at 15.04.15 10:20:26 by Dragnipur Reply
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  • @woody (Comment 4) : YES, back the youngsters!

    We have serious potential there…

  • Comment 10, posted at 15.04.15 10:21:58 by SharksRTB Reply

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  • Agreed. Let’s build.

    I feel Fred, Heimar and Sithole will make a good combo.

  • Comment 11, posted at 15.04.15 10:23:13 by Ben Reply
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  • sometimes i think the coaches in south africa is afraid of losing so they keep on picking the more experienced guys.A good example of a coach backing his young players was alex ferguson.everyone laughed at when started bringing in young players in the early 90.they said you cant win trophies with kids.sure in beginning it was difficult but in the long run man u won how many trophies with youngsters he backed.my advice for the rest of the season(sr & cc)back the youngsters(who is hungry for success) and start cutting the dead wood.

  • Comment 12, posted at 15.04.15 10:27:35 by Phil46 Reply

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  • Totally agree Rob. Let’s hope sanity prevails and this is done :twisted: :mrgreen:

  • Comment 13, posted at 15.04.15 10:28:40 by RedSharkUtd82 Reply

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  • @Ben (Comment 11) : Our backline sure looked a ton more exciting with Fred as FH…Lambie is class, but Fred has some serious flair (and a ton of speed to burn).

  • Comment 14, posted at 15.04.15 10:37:45 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • I have a slightly different take on this.

    What I have been witnessing studying some of the most successful sports teams over extended periods (not just the flash in a pan one-or-two season champions) was that they have two things that work bloody well.

    1) An exceptional junior development programme and scouting framework.
    2) A deeply rooted culture built around simply systems and strong principles.

    The Sharks Super Rugby team for me is like the Springboks. It is the very highest honour a player or coach can achieve within that organisation and when that team runs out to play, you have the very best players playing – all the time.

    The context of this though is vital to understand.

    The very best players are not the guys wearing jerseys 1 to 15 week in and week out – it is not even the guys wearing 1 to 23 week in and week out (for me the guy in jersey number 23 is as important and as good as the guy in jersey 1, or 15 / the position which he covers – but that is a whole different subject on how we get subs benches wrong imo) – it is your top 38 guys (two full squads plus an extra front row, 5 lock, scrumhalf, flyhalf, center and back three player) or 45 guys.

    There are two guarantees in rugby, players get injured, and players have a dip in form at some stage of their career. Your success as a team or organisation is dependent on the guy stepping in, at whatever stage (during a game or during a season), performing at the same level as the guy that suffers from one of those two situations.

    Will you get it 100% right? Never, nothing in rugby is every 100% – the game and the guys playing it are simply too dynamic to every be perfected.

    But you can ensure that a minimum standard is always achieved – and to my mind that standard falls between the 95 and 97% mark.

    To achieve this you need to have the right systems in place.

    In practical terms for me this means that something like the defensive system coached at senior level with your top team, is introduced in stages in your development structures as low as U16 level for the players you send to Grant Khomo week.

    Every year, and every level your elite players progress, you expand on these systems. I used defence now but that goes for everything. How you communicate, your lingo, your set pieces, your attacking maps, all of it.

    What this will deliver in the long run is the laaitie that comes fresh out of the academy, or an age-group environment will be able to slot easily into your elite structures where everything is familiar, because every coach, and every coachable aspect of the game, has been introduced to him from a young age.

    The dynamics to ensure that the guy does not only know the systems, but is good enough to play at that level, is also controlable, and measureable..

    Greatness in anything, especially sport, takes fucking hard work, and an organisation that functions at all levels with the same goals and objectives for everyone.

    My 2 cents

  • Comment 15, posted at 15.04.15 10:46:55 by Morné Reply
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  • This is not to say it’s just a simple case of out with the old in with the new, but certainly I would agree that our young up and coming players aren’t afforded enough opportunities because of the quality of player we have had in certain positions over the last few years.

    Although we’ve lost plenty of top locks because we’ve gone with journey men instead.

    With the front row and backrow we always had the problem that we had settled combinations and coaches aren’t willing to try anything else.

    I think we’ve had too many under par centers in the last few years and could have tried plenty of good young players as combos (who’s left by now – Du Preeze). Still the Sharks has more than Andre/Heimar and Sithole for centers.

  • Comment 16, posted at 15.04.15 10:47:22 by Letgo Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 14) : Fred did look dangerous. Fred vs Pollard should be a very interesting matchup!

  • Comment 17, posted at 15.04.15 10:47:31 by Dragnipur Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 14) : I like what Fred brings to the table. Needs to work on his goal kicking, though, but come to think of it, so does Lambie.

  • Comment 18, posted at 15.04.15 10:48:48 by Ben Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 15) :

    Worth more than 2 cents :grin:

    You used a bad word! :shock: Not used to that from you, you must be quite passionate about the particular topic.

  • Comment 19, posted at 15.04.15 10:52:26 by Letgo Reply
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  • I would also prefer it if we rather focus on buying more young upcoming players than on picking up players closer to the end of their careers. It does make sense now and then to buy an experienced player, but is seems that all our recent purchases are close to or over 30.

  • Comment 20, posted at 15.04.15 10:55:21 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 15) : I am hopeful that what you described there is what John Smit is aiming to achieve at the Sharks…which is why I am quite happy to view the current slump as a rebuilding phase.

  • Comment 21, posted at 15.04.15 10:59:11 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • @Letgo (Comment 19) :

    Ha! Sorry, and yes I am deeply passionate about this specific subject. As a country we have relied too much, and for too long, on the amazing talent of our players. We have no idea the extent to which we can take our game.

  • Comment 22, posted at 15.04.15 11:01:35 by Morné Reply
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  • A short while ago I mentioned that I thought that we would be losing a lot of our players after the world cup, I was told that this would not be the case. Have things changed now?

  • Comment 23, posted at 15.04.15 11:01:38 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 20) : Seems as though old Johnie Smit wants these older guys to do double duty – he probably actually wants them as specialist coaches, but financially it is useful to call on them as players.

    Look at Wentzel, training our 5 locks…Stevens is probably supposed to rub some th and lh experience off on our front rows (not sure they’ll respect his advice though).

    Claasens will be there to give specialist coaching to the SH’s, whilst also being available for selection.

    I think it is a smart way of ensuring your junior players receive specialist training and investment in their development.

    It is however very dumb when said seniors are continuously used ahead of the talented youngsters.

  • Comment 24, posted at 15.04.15 11:08:18 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • Hopefully they extend Waylon Murray’s contract until 2019. We need to build for the next world cup

  • Comment 25, posted at 15.04.15 11:16:14 by Dryden Reply

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  • @Morné (Comment 22) :

    I agree with your view completely. And understand some frustration coming through. It would have been great if we had more guys thinking like you.

    I think sometimes people know that a system like that would be beneficial, they just aren’t committed to or passionate about it enough to follow through and sometimes it’s just easier picking up a player that has already showed quality with other successful teams, to boost your team right now.

    What you are talking about will take time and patience and commitment. I just haven’t seen the union willing to do that, although I think Rassie has been doing something similar around the Stormers set-up?

  • Comment 26, posted at 15.04.15 11:18:31 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 26) :

    Yes, he has.

    It is at best a 3 year process before you will start seeing real results. But you can go about it productively where you do not lose or sacrifice while you implement the process.

    3 years in rugby is nothing, the effect however lasts a generation.

  • Comment 27, posted at 15.04.15 11:23:33 by Morné Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 26) : The Stormers are a great example of bringing through talent.

    I think there’s a case for bringing in experienced players, but you then need to sit the youngster down and explain to them their role in the system and the role of the experienced player.

    People respond well to honesty, they know where they stand and what they need to do to make the team. It makes them better players and builds a good vibe in the squad.

  • Comment 28, posted at 15.04.15 11:24:08 by StevieS Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 26) :

    The Lions setup maybe ?

  • Comment 29, posted at 15.04.15 11:36:35 by Zibbie Reply
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  • Rod, the constant picking of Cobus Reinach is also beyond me ;) hehe

  • Comment 30, posted at 15.04.15 11:44:48 by Uli Boelie Reply
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  • @Uli Boelie (Comment 30) : none so blind as those who will not see.

  • Comment 31, posted at 15.04.15 12:03:06 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 29) : The Lions “set up” is more an enforced system that came about due to a lack of funds and the credit should primarily go to Johan Ackermann for created a real squad system where virtually every player can be replaced with someone of a similar quality and at a similar skills level.

    During the 2013 Currie Cup I asked on this site whether Ackers’s rotation of players, changing 8 or 9 players per game regardless of the previous result, will work or come back to bite him once the Lions were back in Super Rugby.

    It seems to have worked.

    This year only 3 players have started in all the Lions’ matches – Mostert, Whiteley and Mapoe. For the Rebels game Ackers made 12 changes from the team that beat the Blues and lost to the Crusaders and then made 9 changes the next week again.

    He has developed a core of about 25 players which he can rotate from one match to another, not necessarily through mass changes anymore, and replacements from outside that core are kept to a minimum and are on track with the game plan and seem to slot in seamlessly.

    But I’m sure Ackers would have like to have a few marquee players in the squad

  • Comment 32, posted at 15.04.15 12:16:14 by Baylion Reply

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  • @Baylion (Comment 32) : I’m glad he’s building depth, I just worry if the Lions start to pick up injuries.

    Ackers is doing really well and I’m happy for you guys, you’ve supported your team through the lean years, now you deserve some rewards.

  • Comment 33, posted at 15.04.15 12:18:53 by StevieS Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 31) : Haha take is easy boet. Some humor on SW is sometimes needed ;)

  • Comment 34, posted at 15.04.15 12:23:42 by Uli Boelie Reply
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  • @StevieS (Comment 33) : Depth is the only way to accommodate for injuries and by that I mean players that have game time and aren’t merely names on the squad list. The Bulls and the Sharks supposedly have depth but their quality youngsters hardly get game time except when enforced by injuries or “rests”.

    The All blacks is a great example of building depth. Over the last few years they gave three or four flyhalves game time and when Carter was out injured Cruden could step up already having played about 20 tests with Barrett on the bench with about 10 tests behind his name while Slade was in the wings as well with some tests to his name.

  • Comment 35, posted at 15.04.15 12:36:59 by Baylion Reply

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  • @Baylion (Comment 35) : 100% correct!

  • Comment 36, posted at 15.04.15 12:54:20 by StevieS Reply
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  • @Baylion (Comment 35) : Exactly my point of view as well.

  • Comment 37, posted at 15.04.15 13:05:16 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • The Lions are “fortunate” that they don’t have any contracted Boks but I’ve wondered at the way coaches rest their Boks in batches rather than spread the rests. Assuming 5 players need to be rested if you rest one player a week each would get 3 weeks rest over the season without impacting to much on the team’s strength, rather than weaken your side by resting three or four at a time

  • Comment 38, posted at 15.04.15 13:10:45 by Baylion Reply

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  • @Baylion (Comment 32) :

    wont mind if one or 2 of our players were playing for the boks regularly . wouldn’t need a marque player then :P .

  • Comment 39, posted at 15.04.15 13:15:43 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Baylion (Comment 38) : you had Gary Gold moaning that he had to rest both his props against the Lions .. should have rested them 1 at a time . would have made more sense .. but this is sa rugby . we act and then we moan

  • Comment 40, posted at 15.04.15 13:17:29 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 29) :

    Since Ackers arrived , yes.

  • Comment 41, posted at 15.04.15 14:02:17 by Letgo Reply
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  • Might not want to hear it, but do not underestimate the influence of Rudolf at the Lions

  • Comment 42, posted at 15.04.15 14:07:42 by Morné Reply
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  • This article whilst well written and thought out is pretty much just wishful thinking. its never gonna happen. The guys paid the most will play the most…like it or not. Welcome to the world of money making sport and being accountable for the bottom line. Im not saying I agree…its just how it is. Unless a union bites the bullets and offers fewer big contracts and relies on its club and university structures things wont change.

  • Comment 43, posted at 15.04.15 14:09:43 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 43) : Surely players like Hoffmann and Stevens don’t count in the highest paid category.

    It is a given that your best and highest paid players will always carry the highest work load. However you can still work out a sensible system to blood younger players of the bench, or even a rare start within a controlled environment.

  • Comment 44, posted at 15.04.15 14:30:42 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 44) : Do you really think Hoffman and Stevens would come to the Sharks for same money as our junior players? Not a chance. They arent on what our Boks earn but believe me its more than the younger guys for sure. I agree regarding introducing youngsters from the bench…but when you have over contracted senior guys…well yeh you want to see your money work.

  • Comment 45, posted at 15.04.15 14:45:13 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 45) : That approach would be terribly short-sighted.

  • Comment 46, posted at 15.04.15 14:50:25 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 46) : Yeh look im not disagreeing you at all. Just saying how it is. As i said above- if we want to create a good culture the union needs to cut the number of large contracts and back its club and varsity structures. Then the guys can realistically fight for places. Well those that havnt left for the UK and Japan

  • Comment 47, posted at 15.04.15 15:11:03 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @Letgo (Comment 41) :

    before he arrived we had a time called “The Dark ages”

  • Comment 48, posted at 15.04.15 15:45:34 by Zibbie Reply
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  • I agree Rob, and although I was not one to support Plums demise, I do get your point that he did not do enough to invest in the future. Unfortunately the current crop of coaching staff are doing the same thing, just not as well, so go figure.

  • Comment 49, posted at 15.04.15 16:45:56 by stevovo Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 42) : I dont mind hearing it over and over and over. That we let him go is a particularly bitter pill to swallow for me.

  • Comment 50, posted at 15.04.15 16:50:25 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 42) : Rudolf se gat man :twisted:

    Ackerman and Mitchel…Ackerman and Mitchel…Ackerman and Mitchel…rinse and repeat until you believe it :twisted:

  • Comment 51, posted at 15.04.15 17:58:39 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 51) : Rudolp’s staalgard gat,the guy whose influence is so underrated there is our old Duikers coach,Swys.
    Don’t think Ackers farts without asking Swys permission.

  • Comment 52, posted at 15.04.15 20:26:03 by The hound Reply
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  • Amen. Echoes my sentiment I tried to convey in a previous article

  • Comment 53, posted at 15.04.15 21:31:41 by JustPlainSHARK Reply

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