robdylan

A dearth of experience at pivot?


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Super Rugby on 25 Jan 2016 at 08:32
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If you’re looking for an early indication of how the combined South African challenge in Super Rugby 2016 is likely to pan out, cast your eye over the flyhalf stocks boasted by the various local franchises. Surprisingly, it doesn’t make for particularly good reading.

I’d say it’s probably a well-established piece of wisdom that you can’t expect a team to perform without a proper general in the number 10 jersey; it’s the kind of position where experience counts for a lot, but where natural talent is also a prerequisite. Running the rule over what’s available to the majority of sides doesn’t really leave one brimming with confidence.

The Bulls have suffered an early setback, with their star man Handre Pollard returning from Japan with a serious shoulder injury. Pollard, still just 21 years old and with only 25 Super Rugby caps to his name, is Nollis Marais’s talisman and without him, the boys in blue suddenly look very thin in the vital pivot channel. Tian Schoeman is promising, but untested beyond Currie Cup level, while Francois Brummer, recently re-contracted after spells with Griquas and the Pumas, is a journeyman at best. While they have plenty of talent elsewhere in their squad, this young Bulls team really does look vulnerable without Pollard and the uncertainty relating to the length of his rehab must be causing Marais many a sleepless night.

The Stormers don’t look too terribly flash either. In Kurt Coleman, they have a player who has never quite managed to really stamp his authority on matters consistently (despite having played a fair bit of Super Rugby), while Robert du Preez is talented but untested at this level. Never shy of young talent, Province have another young flyhalf poached from the Sharks junior ranks in Jean-Luc du Plessis, but even the most one-eyed of Cape fans would probably struggle to hail the temperamental 21-year-old as their Super Rugby saviour in 2016.

The poor Kings are in a state of flux, as always, with the underrated Elgar Watts their best prospect at 10. Watts is a far better player than he’s ever been give credit for, but with the inconsistent young Shane Gates as his only real backup, it’s hard to say that the Bay team is well stocked in this (or any other) position. The Cheetahs don’t look too bad, with the experienced Sias Ebersohn in their ranks and two decent Currie Cup players in Fred Zeilinga and Neil Marais adding depth. Still, even they lack even one acknowledged and proven match-winner in the position, much less two or three.

The Lions are actually one of the better-stocked teams, with Elton Jantjies and Marnitz Boshoff both experienced campaigners who have made their bones in Super Rugby. Jaco van der Walt is a good young prospect and unlike the other teams, the Lions will have the option of using their youngster sparingly, rather than throwing him straight onto the roster out of necessity.

The Sharks have arguably the best local option, both from a talent and an experience point of view, in their captain, Pat Lambie. With Joe Pietersen a hugely-experienced backup option, and the exciting young Inny Radebe also in the mix, things look pretty good down in Durban. An injury or two would still expose a rather soft underbelly, however.



63 Comments

  • With Pat being captain there won’t be much rotation at 10 for the Sharks

  • Comment 1, posted at 25.01.16 08:38:43 by JustPlainSHARK Reply
    JustPlainSHARKCurrie Cup player
     
  • Fly-half is very important as we all know, but how about maybe doing an article on the different teams’ scrumhalves and how the different combinations could affect their team’s playing style.

  • Comment 2, posted at 25.01.16 08:50:38 by KingRiaan Reply
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  • @KingRiaan (Comment 2) : Was just about to mention that it would be interesting to compare the above against scrumhalf depth.

  • Comment 3, posted at 25.01.16 08:52:44 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 3) : I think that the Sharks are probably better off than other teams except maybe the Lions, as we can pair up an experienced 10 with an inexperienced 9 and vice-versa.

  • Comment 4, posted at 25.01.16 08:55:56 by KingRiaan Reply

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  • This is an interesting one. After the RWC i was still upbeat as i knew that 2016 would bring a new dawn in SA rugby with a lot of the old having moved on and its now time for those youngsters that were champing at the bit and asking for a chance instead of the ‘dead wood’ to prove that they now have the goods. So yes there arent 10 international flyhalves around but im excited to see what these youngsters can produce after their talents have been hailed over the last couple years. And its not just flyhalf that this relates to…its all positions and even coaches. Back your boyjies as they say…

  • Comment 5, posted at 25.01.16 08:57:05 by SheldonK Reply

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  • I really hope they don’t use inny on the bench to collect a few caps, they should let the kid play currie cup qualifiers so he is match fit and let him be first choice for currie cup proper, if he performs he could get an end of year tour call up,super rugby will do little for him this season, joe should be cover for flyhalf and fullback.

  • Comment 6, posted at 25.01.16 09:32:37 by Poisy Reply
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  • @Poisy (Comment 6) : get a EOTY call up … ahead of players like Elton and Boshoff who will be playing full Super rugby …… ?

    Man how can you afford dop this time of January ???

  • Comment 7, posted at 25.01.16 09:37:38 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Poisy (Comment 6) : I agree he should get a lot of senior game time, so maybe more in the Currie Cup, but he’s a real talent, so give him some Super Rugby experience and then look to bring him into the squad on a more full time basis next year.

    I don’t think he’ll get a Bok cap just yet, but he is definitely someone who could achieve those heights down the line.

  • Comment 8, posted at 25.01.16 09:41:34 by StevieS Reply
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  • @Poisy (Comment 6) : Yeh i think it all depends on their bench makeup. I wouldnt mind seeing Inny getting a few runs off the bench especially at home or in SA. Abroad let Joe cover

  • Comment 9, posted at 25.01.16 09:42:31 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @Zibbie (Comment 7) : there’s room for more than one flyhalf, the new coach will have certain targets and he will look to develop this guy as much as possible before next world cup.

  • Comment 10, posted at 25.01.16 09:45:27 by Poisy Reply
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  • @StevieS (Comment 8) : @SheldonK (Comment 9) : the problem is that lambie is captain and the coach won’t be keen subbing him with a lot of time left especially in a tight game, giving inny 5-10min in super rugby won’t develop him versus 60-70min in currie cup. If lambie was not captain I would be all for it for him to sit on bench for super rugby

  • Comment 11, posted at 25.01.16 09:48:38 by Poisy Reply
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  • @Poisy (Comment 11) : I was thinking more for those games where Pat is rested. Inny could get 20 minutes or so with Joe starting, then once Inny’s confidence is up you let him start.

    He reminds me of Cruden with his style of play.

  • Comment 12, posted at 25.01.16 09:50:35 by StevieS Reply
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  • @StevieS (Comment 12) : yes 2 or 3 games will do fine, but he must be match fit hence letting him play qualifiers till he is needed in super rugby covering for joe

  • Comment 13, posted at 25.01.16 09:52:53 by Poisy Reply
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  • @Poisy (Comment 11) : It’s a fair point. Maybe give Inny a few minutes at fullback every game or two (and shift Willie to wing) before throwing him into the pivot role? Same way we introduced Pat into Super Rugby. Not suggesting that Inny should be turned into a fullback but it may be a good way to ease him in and sidestep the problem of taking your captain off the field.

  • Comment 14, posted at 25.01.16 09:59:06 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 7) : I have a feeling that this is Elton’s year. Any Bok coach would ignore him at their own peril.

  • Comment 15, posted at 25.01.16 10:00:29 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @Poisy (Comment 13) : Exactly what I was thinking.

    We need the coaches to tell our second stringers that playing Currie Cup is not a demotion, it’s all part of the plan to keep them match fit and ready. It will take great man management and planning to get squad rotation and balance right.

  • Comment 16, posted at 25.01.16 10:05:42 by StevieS Reply
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  • @Poisy (Comment 11) : Yeh look it will be a tricky one as both Pat and Marcel will need to be managed carefully in terms of game time but the coach will also want his captains on the field as much as possible. I expect Inny to play most of the CC qualifying to start with but i think he could make the bench a few home games especially

  • Comment 17, posted at 25.01.16 10:07:46 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @vanmartin (Comment 14) : remember we also have garth april in the mix, if it is to ease him in than he should also switch with april after 60min or so in the qualifiers to learn the fullback position so not to just throw him in super rugby in a unfirmiliar position. We need to build confidence not knock it down if he has a bad game at fullback in super rugby. These qualifiers if done right will make us unbeatable in the currie cup, we also have the monster that is mzamo at loosehead the graft machine that is klenhause a captain in majola at 8th man along with inny and garth. These guys should play as often as possible together as they will be key in currie cup

  • Comment 18, posted at 25.01.16 10:32:40 by Poisy Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 15) : Yes EJ is the top 10 in SA by far

  • Comment 19, posted at 25.01.16 10:47:22 by benji Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 15) : @benji (Comment 19) : Still think he is going to be behind Pat and KING POLLARD . but yea , should at the very least be in the squad .

  • Comment 20, posted at 25.01.16 10:53:01 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 20) : I still worry about Pollard trying to break by himself all the time. All well and good if he gets over the advantage line, but he never looks to pass from there.

    I would have Pat and Elton and look to use them to create space, not bash it up.

  • Comment 21, posted at 25.01.16 11:00:03 by StevieS Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 20) : Id be happy to see Lambie, Pollard, Janjies be the Bok 10s fighting it out. Think Janjies has improved a lot on his erratic play. Pollard’s decision making will improve the more he plays and it seems Lambie has been working hard on his physicality and conditioning

  • Comment 22, posted at 25.01.16 11:03:54 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 22) : You’re right, we’re lucky to have all three. Any other country, bar NZ who seem to churn out quality 10′s every year, could only dream of having three such quality players.

  • Comment 23, posted at 25.01.16 11:20:47 by StevieS Reply
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  • @StevieS (Comment 23) : the problem is that 2 of the 3 is not getting proper Test Level exposure . Elton has not played for the boks since 2012 . and how many test has Lambie started ?

  • Comment 24, posted at 25.01.16 11:23:58 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Poisy (Comment 13) : I like your point…

  • Comment 25, posted at 25.01.16 11:52:03 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 20) : Yup…agreed…

  • Comment 26, posted at 25.01.16 11:56:18 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 24) : I do get what you mean but how many countries rotate their number 1 just for the sake of giving another guy a chance. Im not getting into who should be the number 1 but my point is rather that rotating just simply to give another guy some time at test level doesnt happen. If the number 1 is fit etc he more than likely will play. And its up the the others to change the selectors minds through their provincial play who the number 1 should be

  • Comment 27, posted at 25.01.16 12:34:32 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 27) : the problem is , of course , no 1 get injured . now what do we do ? If Pollard is not ready for the test series we are going to struggle (we might struggle anyway but thats another story )

  • Comment 28, posted at 25.01.16 13:25:14 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 28) : If no.1 gets injured then next in line steps up. Its pretty much how it work everywhere. We just so scared about a ‘lack of experience’ that we want a merry go round. So yes next in line must be kept fit so if no.1 breaks down then 2 just moves up and so on. If 2 establishes himself enough then no1 just joins the queue again

  • Comment 29, posted at 25.01.16 14:02:43 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 29) : lucky we have Lambie i Think . he has shown he can make the step up .

  • Comment 30, posted at 25.01.16 14:15:18 by Zibbie Reply
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  • My 2c. Lions should favour jantjies and maybe even try out combrinck at 10. Boshoff has never looked the same again after he came back from injury. I agree Elgar Watts is very underrated he has always had the most heart and a level head. His fitness and speed lacks a little. WP should have kept Cat happy or at least tried to get Peter Grant back. Coleman is currently their best option and that ain’t saying much.

  • Comment 31, posted at 25.01.16 14:27:26 by coolfusion Reply

    coolfusionSuper Rugby player
     
  • Eberhard for cheetahs. Ja ok maybe but that kid fell apart badly last year. Stability will probably come from Zeilinga. As for the bulls….who gives a crap. .

  • Comment 32, posted at 25.01.16 14:29:09 by coolfusion Reply

    coolfusionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Zibbie (Comment 30) : really?

  • Comment 33, posted at 25.01.16 14:35:46 by benji Reply
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  • @coolfusion (Comment 31) : i recon the Lions will go with Elton at 10 as first choice . Boshoff is very much a confidence player . Will have to see how he goes .

  • Comment 34, posted at 25.01.16 14:36:15 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 30) : Assuming Pollard no.1 then Lambie most definitely can step up. Janjies can also be very effective i believe. Outside of that it could get interesting depending if we stick to local or abroad

  • Comment 35, posted at 25.01.16 14:37:55 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @coolfusion (Comment 31) : In terms of the Lions id like to see either Combrinck or Boshoff play 15 for them with Janjies at 10. Then play Jaco Van Der Walt off the bench.

  • Comment 36, posted at 25.01.16 14:39:27 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @benji (Comment 33) : last min penalty vs AB’s case in point

  • Comment 37, posted at 25.01.16 14:45:02 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 36) : Think Andries Coetzee at 15 , with Combrinck on wing would be the safe bet . How Van Der walt will be handled will be very interesting to watch

  • Comment 38, posted at 25.01.16 14:47:35 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 38) : I think safe bet yes but Combrinck wont push for a Bok spot playing wing…at fb different story i think. I think Jaco Van Der Walt offers a very good bench option

  • Comment 39, posted at 25.01.16 14:58:10 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 39) : at FB he would still have to out play a few guys . Think the Boks would look at Jesse Kriel long before looking at combrink . My bigger hope is that Mapoe sees some time at center in the Green and gold . Some reason people in the know how mentioning Mnisi . Good player . Altough im not sure how he will start ahead of Mapoe and Voster

  • Comment 40, posted at 25.01.16 15:07:28 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 40) : Will be interesting to see where the Bulls play Kriel. Think Combrinck could offer what Boks have missed in Frans Steyn at 15. Mapoe needs to have a good injury free run in Super rugby to get that Bok shot i reckon. Mnisi…jury still definitely out for me…had a good CC but Super rugby he looked very rushed and handling let him down a lot

  • Comment 41, posted at 25.01.16 15:16:32 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 41) : think Bulls will play Jesse at 13 . But we have seen that he does not need to be played in a certain position by the Bulls to be played in a different position by the Boks .

    My money would be on Jesse playing 15 before Combrink would be considered .

    Mapoe has a much better chance to make it .

  • Comment 42, posted at 25.01.16 15:22:55 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 42) : I truly believe the Boks going forward will be very different to the ones of the last few years. Just my feeling. If Bulls play Kriel at 13 and Gallant at 15 it means either Serfontein or Odendaal sitting out in the centres

  • Comment 43, posted at 25.01.16 15:30:08 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 43) : Got no confidence in the Boks ATM . waiting for the whole bulls team to be selected , and a bunch of excuses why no lions players can be included

  • Comment 44, posted at 25.01.16 15:57:08 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 44) : U do know the whole coaching staff etc has been let go right? So not sure why you would think that at all?

  • Comment 45, posted at 25.01.16 16:02:56 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @Zibbie (Comment 37) : and since then what has Bambie shown to make him a top/stand out 10?

  • Comment 46, posted at 25.01.16 16:08:02 by benji Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 45) : ive been hurt … just being careful :)

    @benji (Comment 46) : which team do you support ?

  • Comment 47, posted at 25.01.16 16:11:02 by Zibbie Reply
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  • Can’t wait for season to start!!!!

  • Comment 48, posted at 25.01.16 16:11:44 by JD Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 47) : U sound like a girl (no offense if you are)…but man up… back your boyjies. We need to have faith in SA rugby or we may as well just switch to watching the European Championship

  • Comment 49, posted at 25.01.16 16:12:54 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 49) : whahahha . no very male at last check :P

    lets wait and see . i still have my reservations . but we will see

  • Comment 50, posted at 25.01.16 16:22:26 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 50) : Look i can guarantee a few things: There will without doubt be guys selected that some people think shouldnt be there. There will be guys not selected that some people think should be there. people will claim there is provincial bias no matter what the make up is. People will either moan about the game plan or the result unless the Boks win every game by 30pts. So bearing all that in mind hehe…lets try be on the positive side of Bok rugby going forward and back these new young guys

  • Comment 51, posted at 25.01.16 16:25:15 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 51) : its fine . go boks …

  • Comment 52, posted at 25.01.16 16:55:56 by Zibbie Reply
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  • Stormers also have the promising Brandon Thomson. I guess if Inny can be categorised as “exciting” the Brandon can too. After all, Inny has played at highest VC and u21′s??

    Joe is a solid stop gap option, but wish, me thinks at Super level, he might get exposed.

    As for the Cheetahs, I have more hope in Neil Marais, than the “mentally fragile” Sias Ebersohn. Man I don’t know if someone can find the trip switch in that guy’s head, and ensure it stays on for a full match. Missing sitters, has become his trademark, I am afeared.

    For sure the Lions and Sharks do look well served. Will be interesting to see the halfback combos’s. Cheetahs have Tiaan Meyer, Sean Venter, and former Baby Bok, JP Smith will slug it out. Pretty solid scrum halves all round. Venter really progressed well, and Meyer is solid enough.

  • Comment 53, posted at 25.01.16 18:14:55 by KingCheetah Reply

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  • @KingCheetah (Comment 53) : Not saying Inny isn’t exciting. Just that he is untested at senior level.

  • Comment 54, posted at 25.01.16 19:09:25 by KingCheetah Reply

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  • So the South African Conference bar the Lions, Jaguares, and Sharks are very thin at 10. The Sharks must now look at these matches as the opportunity to blood our youngsters at 10. Especially home games against all but the Lions and Jaguares should be a time to give Inny game time. Other than that, CC qualifiers as the starting 10, and let Joe be the super sub covering for both Lambie and Willie from the bench. This way youngsters can be blooded and senior players rested without significantly diminishing our opportunity to get wins.

  • Comment 55, posted at 25.01.16 23:12:18 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @KingCheetah (Comment 53) : going to be a hard season!!! Hope the youngsters can make the STEPUP to the big time!!!!

  • Comment 56, posted at 25.01.16 23:22:16 by JD Reply
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  • @KingCheetah (Comment 53) : Isnt the scrummy Makhabela also on the Cheetahs books? He is an ex Glenwood youngster…smallish guy but very quick and a serious pass. Tiaan Meyer is a very under rated scrummy..he just cant seem to hold down a place in 1 side for very long. Shaun Venter i rate as well. If someone can slap Ebersohn and then with Zeilinga and Marais the Cheetahs should be fine at 9/10. Its normally out wide where they get caught on defense. Cheetahs can score points no problem…it stopping points being scored thats the issue

  • Comment 57, posted at 26.01.16 07:58:00 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 57) : Yes Zee Mkhabela is also in the running. Agreed on the defence. Hope this year can be different. Francois Venter has come along nicely, but yes fragile out wide.

  • Comment 58, posted at 26.01.16 21:00:00 by KingCheetah Reply

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  • @KingCheetah (Comment 58) : yes defence will be very important especially if the bonus points system change to the new “3 tries plus” system!!

  • Comment 59, posted at 26.01.16 23:30:41 by JD Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 47) : so what you saying then is if I don’t rate Bambie as the best 10 ever then I cannot possibly be a Shark supporter,eish

  • Comment 60, posted at 27.01.16 00:01:37 by benji Reply
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  • @KingCheetah (Comment 58) : I think Zee will always have that size challenge but he likes to play the game at a high tempo which i like from a 9. I also think Small-Smith could help with the defense organisation out wide. Venter doesnt miss too many tackles in midfield either.

  • Comment 61, posted at 27.01.16 08:38:31 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @benji (Comment 60) : how can’t you rate him as the best ever?!?!? He plays for the Sharks therefor he must be the best!!!!!!!!! :twisted: :shock:

  • Comment 62, posted at 27.01.16 09:03:41 by JD Reply
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  • @KingCheetah (Comment 58) : Nicely enough that I want us to sign him… :mrgreen:

  • Comment 63, posted at 27.01.16 09:22:33 by pastorshark Reply
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