robdylan

Forward mobility the key to excitement?


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 2 Jul 2015 at 11:12
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At yesterday’s pre-Currie Cup press conference, Gary Gold spoke of the depth available to him and expressed his confidence in the squad he has, despite the usual player losses to the Springbok cause. In particular, he dived into one particular aspect – that of mobility amongst the pack – that warrants further discussion.

“If you take just one position – lock – Etienne Oosthuizen will go to second row, he’s played back row in Super Rugby, you have those kinds of mobile players in the second row which can only stand you in good stead. Then there’s Philip van der Walt, Jean-Luc and Daniel du Preez, Khaya Majola and Jean Deysel to pick from in the back row, we have quite a mobile team. I think it can lead to some exciting rugby.”

I guess it’s fair to say that the Sharks will inevitably sacrifice a fair amount of up-front bulk – and with it “grunt” – going into this campaign. I mean, you simply do not remove Beast Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts and Renaldo Bothma from a forward pack without drastically changing its complexion and while the Sharks will argue that they have able backups in most positions, you’re still losing a massive amount of experience and cohesion, never mind the sheer weight.

Fans will be hoping – in line with what Gold appears to be saying – that the team may be forced into playing a more expansive, continuity-based style of rugby as a result of this change in personal. Oosthuizen aside (he actually ends up being about the heaviest man in the new pack, at 118kgs), you’d have to be crazy to expect 100kg Khaya Majola to play the same “wrecking ball” role at openside as 112kg Marcell Coetzee does. Similarly, a player like Philip van der Walt (who may be roughly similar to Renaldo Bothma in a pure kilogram sense) brings such a completely different skill set that trying to utilise him in the same way would be foolish. Let’s not even talk about Alberts…. I mean, NOBODY is the same size as that monster!

The loose forwards will need to be used differently, which is no bad thing, but the key question I have is about the tight five – how do the Sharks ensure that this new era of exciting and mobile forward play does not inevitably lead to a deterioration in set piece performance? While it must be said that the once-feared Sharks scrum has been in drastic decline over the last few years, even with the behemoth Bok front row, it is worrying to consider just how much worse it could get, should the lighter and more “mobile” Dale Chadwick and Lourens Adriaanse not find their scrumming mojo. Marco Wentzel did a pretty impressive one-man rescue job at line-out time during Super Rugby (emerging as the top ball-taker and ball-stealer in the entire competition), but with new hookers, new lifters and new support jumpers, a lot of work is going to be required in this area too to ensure the Sharks remain competitive.

One thing that’s for sure is that the lineout drive 5m from the line surely cannot remain as the de facto route to points; that could be a good thing, though. Remember the days when the Sharks used to use the lineout as a platform from which to launch exciting attacking moves that required forwards and backs to work together – and actually pass the ball to one another? Let’s hope that the new emphasis on “mobility” could be the catalyst for a return to this exciting style of play.



51 Comments

  • I’m with you Rob, I’ve grown tired of the “get-the-ball-to-Willem-Alberts-so-he-can-crash-into-the-loving-opposition’s-arms-and-possibly-lose- possession” tactic.

  • Comment 1, posted at 02.07.15 11:17:18 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 1) : yeah. I’m a little worried that we may be tempted to keep doing hte same thing, just using Deysel instead of Alberts.

  • Comment 2, posted at 02.07.15 11:20:00 by robdylan Reply
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  • Mobility is the key to rugby in general, just ask NZ teams. Bulk and power is the second best tactic, hence SA is always second best.

  • Comment 3, posted at 02.07.15 11:20:15 by Seth101 Reply
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  • 2 points: i hope the lighter/mobile guys are now forced to run at the space not the man…as if they run at the man they will end up on the floor. of concern however, is the number of SA teams that employ the lineout/driving maul approach- do we have the beef or technique to stop this?

  • Comment 4, posted at 02.07.15 11:35:53 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : Well they could use Deysel as a strike runner, but then from there spread it a bit hopefully.

  • Comment 5, posted at 02.07.15 11:41:36 by Dragnipur Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 4) : I think there are some clever ways to combat it…. I mean, there must be. You just have to learn them, master them and then vary them in a game so you’re not always doing the same thing.

  • Comment 6, posted at 02.07.15 11:47:37 by robdylan Reply
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  • Didn’t we struggle in last years currie cup not being able to front some of the other teams though?

  • Comment 7, posted at 02.07.15 11:49:58 by Shane Hansen Reply

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  • Lesbehonest, watching Deysel send okes rolling is one of my favourite things, that said he was doing Sonny Bills before Sonny Bill. Anyone remember that Griquas game a few years back where he bumped Trompie Nontshinga so hard he forgot his name and then floated a sweet little offload out the back of his hand to set up the try. We will always have huge farmer boys, give them a good pair of hands and we’ll have best of both worlds

  • Comment 8, posted at 02.07.15 11:50:25 by Surprise Attack Reply

    Surprise AttackUnder 21 player
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 6) : Yes whilst i do agree with you. There are no a lot of legal ways to stop a quickly constructed maul. U cant tackle the jumper or his lifters. Once they hit the ground you have literally 5seconds to sack that maul as after that you deemed to be bringing it down hence the penalty.So basically after 5secs the only way you can stop a maul is brute force of numbers pushing it back.What amazes me is if a guy is held up in a tackle in general play a maul is called, if oppositon then bring that maul to ground they get the ball as attacking team took the ball in. Now why is that maul different to a maul 5m from the tryline? The opposition take the ball in, a maul is formed, if defending team take the maul down to ground its a penalty or penalty try but in any other area they get the ball?

  • Comment 9, posted at 02.07.15 12:11:03 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 4) : Well we weren’t super successful countering it with our really big guys so might as well give the more mobile guys a go. They may just surprise us.

  • Comment 10, posted at 02.07.15 12:17:40 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 10) : Maybe as they smaller the ref wont see them crawl under the maul and bring it down…

  • Comment 11, posted at 02.07.15 12:26:52 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 11) : :mrgreen:

  • Comment 12, posted at 02.07.15 12:28:01 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 4) : @robdylan (Comment 6) : The best way I think is still to withdraw all players from the maul as soon as it starts. They are then not allowed to drive forward as it will be seen as obstruction. Any one of our players can also then run around and tackle the ball carrier right away. While it naturally goes against the players instinct to drive the maul back, it still remains very effective.

  • Comment 13, posted at 02.07.15 12:28:59 by Another Nick Reply

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  • @Another Nick (Comment 13) : That is an effective way. How teams were countering that is they would keep the ball in the front an the guy would grab the nearest defending player thereby creating the contact, once he did the ball was shifted back and well we know the rest. I think the “stand off” goes against the general principles of the game…but then again so does legalised obstruction

  • Comment 14, posted at 02.07.15 12:32:53 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 4) : @robdylan (Comment 6) : I must agree with Rob there is ways to stop it, you must just use more than one technique to stop it (standing off, sacking, counter drive, etc) thus keeping your opponents guessing as to how you will counter their drive.
    One way that I personally think is under utilised is competing in the lineouts. This puts pressure on the hooker and locks as there is no “free” balls.

  • Comment 15, posted at 02.07.15 12:35:45 by JD Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 6) : There are definitely ways to stop it and there are teams who can do it effectively. I still think that the laws favour the mauling team.

  • Comment 16, posted at 02.07.15 12:38:27 by war1 Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 15) : I have a too obvious quip about not wearing underwear that I’m fighting the urge to post. Guess I already failed by posting this :x

  • Comment 17, posted at 02.07.15 12:40:44 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Just by replacing big players with little ones, does not guarantee a more expansive game plan.
    Generally speaking, sides earn the ability to spread the ball by having a dominant pack. This also takes several seasons to employ normally.

    The good thing is that its virtually the entire pack being repalced, so one would hope that the new guys start with a different mentality and look to play to their strengths, as opposed to tryingt o follow a tried and tested route, which hasnt really worked of late.

  • Comment 18, posted at 02.07.15 12:48:41 by VinChainSaw Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 6) :

    Agreed – its brains thats needed to combat.
    Same as other areas have evolved – line-outs, scrums, rucks etc.

    You just need to be wys… ;-)

  • Comment 19, posted at 02.07.15 12:50:30 by VinChainSaw Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 14) : True, but their timing must be perfect in order to do this. The defending team as well. But like JD said, maybe the best way is to vary your options in order to keep them guessing.

  • Comment 20, posted at 02.07.15 12:53:11 by Another Nick Reply

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  • @Another Nick (Comment 20) :

    Its tough to attack or defend against an unpredictable team.
    So variation is key, not a concept we’ve really embraced in SA Rugby over the years.

  • Comment 21, posted at 02.07.15 12:55:58 by VinChainSaw Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 15) : You def do need to vary the approach used. However i do believe that contesting the lineout is a gamble as if opposition get clean ball you have 3 guys out that then cant into position to contest the maul and attacking team will most likely score. My argument is more around why the maul from a lineout is reffed different to a maul anywhere else on the field.

  • Comment 22, posted at 02.07.15 13:14:33 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 21) : Very true. Sadly SA teams have become way to predictable in the way we attack & defend. This may be one of the main reasons our SR teams did so poor this year

  • Comment 23, posted at 02.07.15 13:18:17 by Another Nick Reply

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  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 18) : well, this is the subtext.

    Sharks aren’t going to get this right overnight, are they? Will there be patience, or will fans be calling for Gold’s head (again) after 2 losses?

  • Comment 24, posted at 02.07.15 13:20:33 by robdylan Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 22) : I stand corrected after a discussion with a ref friend. In any maul the defending team cannot be seen to be the cause of the maul going to ground, if they are then penalty. If however the attacking team cause the maul to go to ground then its turnover possession as maul was held up. Provided its not held up over the line of course.

  • Comment 25, posted at 02.07.15 13:32:13 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @robdylan (Comment 24) : Why wait.

  • Comment 26, posted at 02.07.15 13:36:02 by The hound Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 24) : Off with his head…haha Can do a public beheading at Kings Park…im sure it would draw a crowd…can sell hotdogs etc

  • Comment 27, posted at 02.07.15 13:43:17 by SheldonK Reply

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  • I just hope Gold is not talking up an attacking game plan and then reverts back to kicking as was the case in SR.

    I think that is what upset a lot of people during SR was this promise to play an exciting brand of rugby and being given exactly the opposite.

  • Comment 28, posted at 02.07.15 14:33:10 by YamYam Reply
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  • Perhaps i missed a posting about this but the Mercury reported that Gary had noted that Bashie had been approached for the CC coach only to turn it down after protracted negotiations. Anyone know the reason why he turned it down?

  • Comment 29, posted at 02.07.15 14:38:00 by stevovo Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 9) : I’ve thought of that too,but it’s not only close to the try line. It’s from a lineout anywhere on the field.

  • Comment 30, posted at 02.07.15 15:56:13 by Ben Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 24) :

    Rhetorical question?
    There is zero tolerance in Durbs at the moment.

  • Comment 31, posted at 02.07.15 16:46:50 by VinChainSaw Reply
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  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 31) : it was rhetorical and your answer is spot on. As validated by Hound.

  • Comment 32, posted at 02.07.15 16:53:07 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 32) :

    Sadly, yup.

    And here i thought Bulls fans were unreasonable.

  • Comment 33, posted at 02.07.15 16:58:07 by VinChainSaw Reply
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  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 33) : I think we’ve lost patience…though we need to acknowledge that there has been a MAJOR overhaul at the Sharks…

    …what happened (and didn’t happen – SR cup winner) during the pre-John Smit era needs to be forgotten, and we probably need to apply the patience commonly shown by the Lions supporters for the past how many years.

  • Comment 34, posted at 02.07.15 17:07:24 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 34) :

    You’re looking at years of rebuilding. ITs an entire generation of players that are moving on.
    Any further coahcing changes will simply extend that time period.
    Unless of course you change the coaching right now, which wont happen.

  • Comment 35, posted at 02.07.15 17:18:38 by VinChainSaw Reply
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  • There is definitely a misunderstanding of the laws regarding mauls. When an attempt is made to tackle a player, and he is held up, and another player joins, we have a maul. Now even in a maul, it is legal to take the ball carrier to ground, usually what happens in this situation is the player is held up and the ball is held so it can not be shifted back, then after the maul is formed, the tackler takes the ball carrier to ground, all perfectly legal, and the tackling team gets the ball. In the case of a lineout, the ball is shifted back to a ball carrier in the back of the maul, since the opposition can not get to that player through the maul, they can not tackle him, and if they bring another player to ground, then that is bringing down a maul. In a maul, if you can legally get your hands on the ball carrier in the maul, then you are always entitled to bring him to ground, even if the whole mauls comes down with him.

  • Comment 36, posted at 02.07.15 17:24:46 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 36) : That makes a lot of sense.

  • Comment 37, posted at 02.07.15 17:50:56 by Ben Reply
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  • @YamYam (Comment 28) : Fact is most of us are expecting that. My one remark is this. He had almost the same resources to work with delivered an awful gameplan incredibly poor selection, even when he had better men waiting to be put into positions and completely failed to rectify defense the whole series. So what exactly will be different now except the loss of some key players who still made him and his plan kind of sort of work sometimes against weak enough opposition. He is still the same Gary gold has less resources and has he a o me how transformed into a smarter coach? Performing better in the less important tournament than the one that mattered that could have made him a name…? I am pessimistic.

  • Comment 38, posted at 02.07.15 18:27:19 by coolfusion Reply

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  • @coolfusion (Comment 38) : Yeah I think that’s what many people fear, but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    I tend to agree with The Hound sentiments on a previous thread where he feels that BV pulls the strings. And if you read BV articles you will soon pick up he is for the kicking game and playing in the “right” side of the pitch. Which to him equates low risk rugby….Which was very poorly implemented by our boys.

    And perhaps during SR we had to many chefs in the Kitchen. Where to me it now appears that Gold is more in control. And has more say. So let’s see what he has to offer during CC. I think that would constitute a fair chance..

  • Comment 39, posted at 02.07.15 19:25:04 by YamYam Reply
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  • Since we don’t directly control the purse-strings we have very little if any say in the matter. We have to accept, move on and get behind our team, regardless of whether we approve of certain coaches or not.

  • Comment 40, posted at 02.07.15 20:46:59 by vanmartin Reply
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  • first off: I’ve only recently discovered this website, and must say its a great place for constructive rugby convo’s

    so this cc has got me excited, a lot of fresh faces, feels like the start of some thing new, not just for my beloved sharks but also for the cheetahs and kings, bulls also too a certain degree

    having a slightly lighter but more mobile pack will gave its advantages and disadvantages yes

    of the teams that are restructing on and off the field its a race to see who can bring together a winning effective formula first, although they need to be careful that they dont grab a short term solution for the cc and bomb out in sr

    my chief concern is what we look like in defense, if one studies the top sides of this yrs sr, you can see they are calm and focus on defense, and their tackle technique is spot on, and in the case of the canes and brumbies their defenses are able to make changes mid game to adjust to opponents tactics

    much like when we gave the stormers a wake up but grubbering the ball every chance we got, as in that game we kicked in response their defense rushing up every time we had the ball, and it worked a treat as not only dd they not adjust, their back3 of howard (really a centre), jonny kotze (future great outside centre), Robert dupreez (struggled at fullback, better at fh) we big guys who seem to take ages to turn around, and their inexperienced

    this type of thing is prevelent in sa rugby, our guys are very passionate but not very clued up on how to react to all things on the field

    I expect a change in tactics to adjust to a more mobile pack, I just hope we remember to earn the right to move the ball wide, we certainly have a exciting backline this cc

  • Comment 41, posted at 02.07.15 21:06:17 by revolverocelot Reply

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  • @coolfusion (Comment 38) : Was there supposed to be a somehow somewhere in there? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 42, posted at 02.07.15 22:48:38 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Hmmm…I don’t know about this whole mobile pack thing. Ultimately, n matter the game plan, you can never get completely away from the fact that the forwards are , if not the cornerstone, then a cornerstone of the game. You need to get at least most of the basics of setpieces and breakdowns right before oodles of mobility help you much. Mobility is by no means unimportant, but if all (or even too many) forwards are mobile then you do pay a price at setpiece and breakdown time. I look forward to seeing the mobile boys contribute…but I don’t relish paying too big a price in the setpieces and at the breakdowns. So please keep working very hard at the basics of forward play. Once we get those right we can add frills…

  • Comment 43, posted at 02.07.15 22:56:26 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @pastorshark (Comment 43) : Spoken like a true forward!

  • Comment 44, posted at 02.07.15 22:56:48 by pastorshark Reply
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  • For the record, I don’t think Gold should be fired…he’s definitely qualified to coach CC rugby, thereafter he should focus on being DoR.

    – I’m quietly hoping Strudwick turns out to be the find of the decade and makes the step up to CC and SR head coach.

  • Comment 45, posted at 03.07.15 05:19:19 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • @pastorshark (Comment 43) : I agree it needs to be a balanced approach also a smart approach pick the right type of approach for the opponent which means you have to keep all your different knives sharp not just one type. If small and mobile was the key lions would have won sa and probably the whole series. We must have multiple platforms and the ability to adapt them to the play. Something not just we sharks but the whole sa suffers with.

  • Comment 46, posted at 03.07.15 07:06:05 by coolfusion Reply

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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 45) : I agree. My point is we shouldn’t expect fireworks he is only a stopgap not a series winner. But it gives us time to source the right man and the players peace of mind in the time of major changes.

  • Comment 47, posted at 03.07.15 07:09:33 by coolfusion Reply

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  • @robdylan (Comment 32) : The only thing Gold has in his favour is that he goes into the Currie Cup as one of the most settled coach in the competition,Bulls in a shambles haven’t announced their coach yet.Stormers only have Fleck left.Cheetahs brand new coachOnly the Lions of the Super rugby teams have settled continuity.
    Gold has inherited a very decent system,I certainly have seen no evidence that he is the man to run it.
    He needs to hit the ground winning,and nothing short of a win in the competition with a settled combination will satisfy the K.P. Faithful.
    He is now directly in the firing line,hopefully happy with his coaches,and now there is no body else to blame.

  • Comment 48, posted at 03.07.15 07:21:54 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 48) : you are behind.

    Bulls announced Nollis Marais as their Currie Cup coach the moment Ludeke resigned. WP confirmed that Vodacom Cup coach John Dobson would be taking the Currie Cup reigns ages ago.

  • Comment 49, posted at 03.07.15 07:28:50 by robdylan Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 48) : Gold has inherited a very decent system!? How do you arrive at that conclusion; by and large the consensus seems to be that systems at the Sharks (especially youth systems) are in a shambles?

  • Comment 50, posted at 03.07.15 08:16:05 by Culling Song Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 49) : My point,both have never coached at this level before.Compared to these two Gold is a veteran.

  • Comment 51, posted at 03.07.15 08:17:34 by The hound Reply
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