KSA Shark ©

Maybe Sharks just need a challenge

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :Sharks, Super 14 on 31 Mar 2008 at 10:07

Coach Dick Muir would have had lots to mull over as he joined his Sharks team in flying out to New Zealand on Sunday for a five-match tour that will make or break their challenge for a home semifinal.

The Sharks record one match short of the halfway point of their campaign reads impressively enough — six matches played, six matches won. However, Muir has been the first to admit that in most of those his team produced a less than 100% performance, and while Sharks fans console themselves with the thought that to play badly and keep winning must mean this is a highly capable team, the 22-10 win over the Reds provided many areas of concern.

Gavin Rich writes for Superrugby that while the Sharks’ defensive play cannot be faulted, they lacked the fluidity on attack that Muir would have hoped for, and once again they were denied a bonus point, something that will be crucial in the battle for home ground advantage at the end of the league stage of this competition.

You do get the impression that sooner or later the Sharks’ luck is going to run out, and Muir said before departure that the Sharks won’t get away with playing at less than top gear when they get overseas.

“Winning all your games without hitting top gear is good and well, but it won’t be good enough overseas,” said Muir.

“The crunch time is now. We will no longer have the luxury of winning while being off colour in a particular area of our game. If we want to be successful, we have to be polished in every aspect of our game, and we have all embraced that challenge.”

Ah, that word — “challenge”. Is it just possible that this is precisely what the Sharks need? It has been noticeable that while they may have struggled in many games that they should have been expected to win easier than they did, the Sharks have always managed to put it together once it really mattered.

For instance, there was the final ten minutes of the Bulls match, when they scored three tries to win a difficult match and secure their only bonus point so far, and the second half of the clash with the Stormers, where they had to recover from a 10-0 half-time deficit. And then there was the thrilling start to the Blues match.

Their response to the call for a top performance in the Blues match may well be significant in that it was the only game where the Sharks did not start as favourites. Everyone was writing up the Blues, and the Sharks started the match feeling like they had something to prove. Those first 40 minutes produced a compelling performance which all but won the match for the hosts.

The Sharks will feel they face a similar challenge in Wellington this weekend. The Hurricanes are well placed in the top four, and finished strongly against the Crusaders in their last match. You would imagine that, considering how the Sharks battled against the Reds, the Durban team will start as underdogs.

Could this be the spark for them to produce one of their best performances? It could well be, for the Sharks will know that over the next five weeks they cannot afford to be complacent, that over-confidence will be punished. They start their tour against the Hurricanes, they end it against the Crusaders, and in between that they play in Australia — as away legs go, they don’t come any tougher.

It was a good thing then that the Sharks reported a clean bill of health before their departure, with Waylon Murray and Ryan Kankowski both recovering from the injuries that bothered them against the Reds.

There is no denying that the Sharks do have the players to beat any comers, both at home and overseas. Perhaps they need to be sparked by a real challenge. That challenge, like Polly Shortts inevitably does for any ambitious Comrades Marathon hopeful and as Constantia Nek does in the Two Oceans, has now arrived…


  • Thanks to SL for drawing our attention to the article.

  • Comment 1, posted at 31.03.08 10:13:30 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • You do get the impression that sooner or later the Sharks’ luck is going to run out

    Lots of people seem to be under the impression that the Sharks have been lucky so far. That is somewhat irritating as I don’t think a single game has been decided by lucky bounce of the ball / rub of the green / descisions going our way.

    True, the Sharks have not been as flash as some teams, but they have deserved every win – luck had a lot less to do with it than hard work and talent. Rather give credit where it’s due, while at the same time not hyping the team and having unrealistic expectations.

    Maybe when they do get some luck they will score the 6 or 7 tries that look to be left on the table on almost every game. 😀

  • Comment 2, posted at 31.03.08 10:38:38 by yossarian Reply
  • This is exactly what I’ve been saying. If you’ve played any form of sports you know that no 2 games are the same and sometimes a smaller side on a good day is harder than a bigger side on a bad day.

    We definitely need to improve with regards to our “decision-making” (and that goes for ALL positions) as well as those dreadful unnecessary handling errors. Can’t wait for the game on Saturday…cos it will be between our weakenesses being exposed or us patching up the leaks.

  • Comment 3, posted at 31.03.08 10:41:22 by blackshark Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • weakenesses = weaknesses that the coach doesn’t see till matchday. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 4, posted at 31.03.08 10:42:41 by blackshark Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • Good morning all.

    Nice to be winning all the games – but it is not looking pretty. Hope the guys can step it up a gear overseas.

  • Comment 5, posted at 31.03.08 10:43:47 by Nessa Reply
  • 31.03.08 10:38:38 – yossarian

    Yos as KSA said, it’s the high expectations of the Sharks and their supporters that makes us critical….coupled with the knowledge, as Muir himself said, that this is not going to be good enough down under and if we get to the knock out stages.

  • Comment 6, posted at 31.03.08 10:48:46 by Dive Pass Reply
    Dive Pass
  • If anything …I’d say we’ve been unlucky in a few occasions… 👿

  • Comment 7, posted at 31.03.08 10:57:52 by blackshark Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • DP – sure. I am also hoping that we can improve. I think that it is a given that when you get to the business end of the competition – last four rounds – the quality teams in contention for the finals show that they have the ability to step up a bit.

    Dick said that he never planned for the team to peak in the early rounds and I am hoping there is a reality to that and a plan behind it. But I am also satisfied with the performances so far 😀

  • Comment 8, posted at 31.03.08 10:59:10 by yossarian Reply
  • We seem to perform better against the stronger sides – so am sure they will be up to the task.

  • Comment 9, posted at 31.03.08 11:02:12 by Nessa Reply
  • Sharks havent been flash, as yossarian said and everyone’s seen… but they have been pretty solid and have so far always managed to lift their game when needed…no reason for them not to do it again… should be an awesome game this weekend

  • Comment 10, posted at 31.03.08 11:07:12 by spykerbaard Reply
  • Spyker – just remember it is not as difficult to lift your game when needed when you are playing against the weaker sides – it will be a whole different ball game against teams like the Hurricanes. But then, as I said above, we seem to play better against the stronger teams.

  • Comment 11, posted at 31.03.08 11:08:43 by Nessa Reply
  • gm gwanny nessa :mrgreen:

    guys this is same as what i said before , and this article in some ways says the same

    so lets be good at what we actually are and thats SUPPORTERS
    i know we all have points of view and its could to discuss , but we need to becareful in sounding to negative , as i dont believe 1 of these players aint trying their heart out
    and they didnt choose themselves

    BS can you remember we spoke before and i had said odwa should be dropped ??

    well i will be the first to say he has improved tremendously and is a must for the team
    his play saterday with stefan was awesome

    JP now needs to pull the socks up

    infact the only player to me that didnt play well saturday was AJ
    even i have to admit now he isnt playing with the same vigor and dosnt look like the hearts still in it

  • Comment 12, posted at 31.03.08 11:11:01 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Hey grandpa! 😉

    Not negative at all – just stating the facts. You can’t seriously tell me that you enjoyed the game on Saturday? We shouldn’t be struggling like that against the teams that are bottom of the log.

  • Comment 13, posted at 31.03.08 11:12:59 by Nessa Reply

  • i definitely think they’ll be up for this weekends game Ness, as you say, the stronger the opposition, the better they seem to play

  • Comment 14, posted at 31.03.08 11:16:39 by spykerbaard Reply

  • Yep…we can’t deny the fact that we struggled on Saturday. At 10-10…deep in the second half…I was jumping up and down for the wrong reasons. We had too much possession and nothing to show for it. But at the end we broke the barrier and managed to get 2 tries.

    Not to add to the topic that’s been over-discussed…but Steyn was fantastic on defence but I wished they wouldn’t pass to him when we were attacking. Even if DM moves him to 12…if he keeps playing like that he’ll be just another “defensive centre” 😕 …pretty much like Baritt… 😆

  • Comment 15, posted at 31.03.08 11:21:31 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • As someone who has always liked Ruan Pienaar – I must say that the game changed when Rory came on.

  • Comment 16, posted at 31.03.08 11:23:32 by Nessa Reply

  • Hallo Nessa… 😎

  • Comment 17, posted at 31.03.08 11:30:12 by Charlie Reply

  • 31.03.08 11:21:31 – blackshark

    I know this flies in the faces of Muir’s fairly consistent selection policy but I would say play Steyn at 12 in the Hurricanes match, if he doesn’t work give Adi a chance against the Highlander and if that fails reverted to the solid but uninspiring Barrit against Brumbies the and live with it for the seaason nothing ventured nothing gained but at least you have check out all your options…

  • Comment 18, posted at 31.03.08 11:30:40 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • DP,

    Michalak 10 & Adi 12…anyday, so much flair to display… :mrgreen:

  • Comment 19, posted at 31.03.08 11:34:53 by Charlie Reply

  • I think that what rankles is the performance of the Crusaders. They generally play a brilliant game regardless of their opposition, and they are, after all, the benchmark against which the Sharks are being measured.

    The S14 final last year showed that the Sharks are certainly capable of playing brilliant rugby in every regard. I think we’d just all like to see it happening a little more often.

  • Comment 20, posted at 31.03.08 11:36:34 by Waz Reply

  • 31.03.08 11:34:53 – Charlie

    Know you would say that …. as sure as the Pope is Catholic and the Bull’s like a kicking fly-half….

  • Comment 21, posted at 31.03.08 11:37:37 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • Hello Charlie! 😉

  • Comment 22, posted at 31.03.08 11:42:52 by Nessa Reply

  • Hey Waz.

  • Comment 23, posted at 31.03.08 11:43:15 by Nessa Reply

  • DP…

    :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  • Comment 24, posted at 31.03.08 11:44:37 by Charlie Reply

  • But how would we tell that a player won’t work in position after only ONE game DP?

  • Comment 25, posted at 31.03.08 11:50:58 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • 31.03.08 11:50:58 – blackshark

    It is better then no or a few minutes opportunity….which is what the other contenders for the 12 berth have been getting so far…

  • Comment 26, posted at 31.03.08 11:55:52 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • Ya well…I’m all for trying different things…with the talent we have we really can’t afford not to rotate the players a bit.

  • Comment 27, posted at 31.03.08 11:58:47 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • Don’t think the Sharks have too much to be concerned about. So far they’ve conceded the least amount of tries, they’re unbeaten, second on the log, match in hand… And I’m not even a Sharks supporter.

  • Comment 28, posted at 31.03.08 12:04:54 by racheltjiedebeer Reply

  • 31.03.08 12:04:54 – racheltjiedebeer

    ….your not even a woman

  • Comment 29, posted at 31.03.08 12:07:40 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • 😆 DP. Wanted to add that as well… 😆

  • Comment 30, posted at 31.03.08 12:09:26 by racheltjiedebeer Reply

  • hopefully that won’t be followed with…

    …and you’re not even South African…

  • Comment 31, posted at 31.03.08 12:13:29 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • I’m 100% Seff Effrican. 😎

  • Comment 32, posted at 31.03.08 12:15:19 by racheltjiedebeer Reply


    to me the guys are not comparing apples with apples

  • Comment 33, posted at 31.03.08 17:34:46 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • The Sharks are going to lose against the Hurricanes and Crusaders on tour and then wake up out of their sleep…

  • Comment 34, posted at 31.03.08 20:08:20 by Hmmm Reply

  • Steyn should move to 13….as Barrit is ef the better on the two centers…

    They also need to do something about their wings…

  • Comment 35, posted at 31.03.08 20:09:54 by Hmmm Reply

  • Or a Kockett Pienaar half pair….

    And michelack/steyn centre pair….

  • Comment 36, posted at 31.03.08 20:12:02 by Hmmm Reply

  • Or just anyone who is able to penetrate!?!??!

  • Comment 37, posted at 31.03.08 20:13:43 by Hmmm Reply

  • The only wing that looked like a Bok was Chevange….until Habana’s last performance….

    No one else deserve to be mentioned…

  • Comment 38, posted at 31.03.08 20:16:16 by Hmmm Reply

  • And our centres are not looking any better either!?!?

  • Comment 39, posted at 31.03.08 20:17:06 by Hmmm Reply

  • SA Forwards and especially loosies looking real good……

  • Comment 40, posted at 31.03.08 20:21:06 by Hmmm Reply

  • The Sharks are going to lose against the Hurricanes and Crusaders on tour and then wake up out of their sleep…

    31.03.08 20:08:20 – Hmmm Edit

    You also said the lions were going to beat the Sharks and i think the Blues as well.

    So as long as you think the Canes will win then we are safe. 😉

  • Comment 41, posted at 31.03.08 20:29:48 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh and BTW.

    Next time you say you are leaving during a game, please do it.

    I liked Kette taking her Sharks top of thinking it had lost it’s mojo, but the Sharks only really upped their game once you left. 😉

  • Comment 42, posted at 31.03.08 20:40:28 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • I actually did leave…for a half hour….you can check the stats to see if I was logged on…

    Then I came back for like 10 minutes and then left again…..

  • Comment 43, posted at 31.03.08 21:03:28 by Hmmm Reply

  • Terblanch/Steyn/Kockett (as much as I dislike him)/Freddie are the only people that look like they are able to break any line in that backline…

  • Comment 44, posted at 31.03.08 21:05:24 by Hmmm Reply

  • Nope I never said we are going to beat the Blues….

    But I did say if the Sharks wanna beat us they are going to have to play their hearts out….

    I did not bargain on the LIONS making sure they don’t score any of their 4 “catch and fall over the tryline” oppo’s….

  • Comment 45, posted at 31.03.08 21:08:00 by Hmmm Reply

  • And the loss to the Canes will be good….Like the loss to the Force last year…..

    As I said they will ten wake up out of their sleep….

  • Comment 46, posted at 31.03.08 21:09:39 by Hmmm Reply

  • Hmmm – talking to ourselves are we? 😉

  • Comment 47, posted at 31.03.08 21:47:41 by Nessa Reply

  • If Dick carries out his Steyn at 12 comment then the canes are toast.

  • Comment 48, posted at 31.03.08 21:51:22 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • I doubt Dick will try something like that against a team as strong as the Canes? Do you think he will?

  • Comment 49, posted at 31.03.08 22:00:20 by Nessa Reply

  • LoL seems so KSA

    At least Nessa is here too…

  • Comment 50, posted at 31.03.08 22:22:35 by Hmmm Reply

  • The Sharks’ daunting five-match Super 14 tour of Australasia had been planned with military precision, says coach Dick Muir, but the emphasis has been on making it an enjoyable adventure.

    Click here for our fantastic 2008 Super 14 SMS subscription package (SA only)

    Muir said that the Sharks were traditionally good travellers and the players were excited about the challenges ahead on the most demanding of tours.

    Which is just as well as they have been handed a draw from hell as they criss-cross the Tasman Sea four times.

    They start against the fourth-placed Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday, six days later they take on the Highlanders in Dunedin, then nip over to Australia to play the Brumbies and the Waratahs before ending the five-week trip against the log-leading Crusaders back in New Zealand.

    Muir said the itinerary had been meticulously planned, ensuring that there was the right blend of work and play, of hard rugby and relaxation.


    “The build-up to the Hurricanes will be brief and intense because it will be a short week but we then go to Queenstown (one of New Zealand’s top skiing resorts) before the game against the Highlanders,” said Muir shortly before the squad flew out of Durban.

    “In Australia we will be based at a resort near Sydney for the games against the Brumbies and the Waratahs and we also have excellent accommodation in Christchurch for the last game.”

    While many South African rugby players dread the overseas leg of the Super 14 season, Muir said the Sharks “turned the tour into a positive” and this had shown in their successes on past tours.

    But Muir concedes that the Sharks will have to improve on their South African form if they are to enjoy a successful trip.

    “What is encouraging is that we have been nowhere near our best and we are still unbeaten. The plan in the Super 14 is to be in the race for the play-offs when you get to the final few games and so far we are on track.

    But if we play like we did in the first half against the Reds (on Saturday), we will be in trouble.” The Sharks have the best defensive record in the competition but what is worrying for Muir, and captain Johann Muller, is that their attacking play has been poor and they have picked up only one bonus point for scoring four tries.

    Their backs, intent on running over opponents instead of creating opportunities for support players, has lacked rhythm.

    “Our backs have tended to run laterally rather than straight and this had made it easy for the opposition defences.”

    But the Sharks have also struggled because the forwards are not dominating at the breakdown and, without quickly recycled possession, there is little momentum.


    Muir is certain to start with Frederic Michalak at flyalf against the Hurricanes with Francois Steyn probably playing at inside centre.

    What must also be a concern is that second-choice scrumhalf Rory Kockott, all pace, energy and physical commitment, provides the team with more momentum than the composed Springbok Ruan Pienaar.

    With Ryan Kankowski and Waylon Murray, who both limped from the field on Saturday, passed fit for the tour, Muir suddenly has a full squad of players and competition for places in the starting line-up is becoming more intense with each passing week.

    Steyn and Adrian Jacobs are both challenging in midfield while Bok loosehead Deon Carstens and lock Steve Sykes are back in harness to provide options at tight forward.

    Lock Albert van den Berg has more to offer than 30 minutes at the end of a game and the depth at loose forward has been further increased now that Tongan battering ram Epi Taione is on board and AJ Venter is not needed at lock.

    Muir has the talent – the travelling squad contains 18 internationals – and this tour will provide the opportunity to turn a willing but patchy outfit into potential champions.

    Sharks’ Super 14 tour fixtures:

    April 5 (Sat) Huricanes (Wellingrton)
    April 11 (Fri) Highlanders (Dunedin)
    April 19 (Sat) Brumbies (Canberra)
    April 26 (Sat) Waratahs (Sydney)
    May 2 (Fri) Crusaders (Christchurch).

  • Comment 51, posted at 01.04.08 06:34:35 by barend Reply


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