Plenty talent, zero delivery

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super 14 on 27 Apr 2008 at 20:42

Saturday’s performance was just plain not good enough for a team as brimming with talent as the Sharks. It was, quite frankly, an embarrassing shambles and it’s time for our galaxy of stars to come down to earth a little.

To my mind, the Sharks have only played about an hour and a half of really good rugby so far this year. The last ten minutes against the Bulls was superb (although the opposition was, admittedly, a man down) while the first halves in both the Blues and Brumbies games showed all-too-brief glimpses of what this team is capable of. For the rest of yet another failed campaign (and don’t kid yourselves that this one isn’t a failure yet) the Sharks have stumbled from scrappy win to fortunate draw to narrow loss to total annihilation and for the most part have played like a team of over-hyped glory boys banking on reputation rather than form.

Ryan Kankowsi has been the only consistent performer. He has been, quite literally, the only guy in the whole team who has played at or above his potential in every outing to date. Keegan Daniel, Bismarck du Plessis, Johann Muller, Rory Kockott and Stefan Terblanche have each played a few decent innings, while Jacques Botes, Brad Barritt, Beast Mtawarira and Odwa Ndungane have tried throughout. It’s results that count, though and for whatever reason, the big names, the match winners, the strike runners are just not pulling their weight.

Top of the pile is Frans Steyn. You can blame it on the coach’s seeming inability to find a position for him, but Frans has looked pretty ordinary in all of the ones he’s tried, including his favourite, inside centre, where he played on Saturday. He may be a prodigy, he may be a World Cup winner, but right now, he’s about as useful to the Sharks as an igloo in the Sahara. He is arrogant, petulant and brash. He makes mistakes and he doesn’t learn from them. He plays as an individual and doesn’t trust his teammates. He is, right now, a liability.

At least Frans is trying things, though. Waylon Murray and JP Pietersen are playing like they are scared! They don’t chase kicks, they don’t compete for the high ball and most damningly, they don’t back themselves with ball in hand. In fact, Adi Jacobs seems to be the only Sharks back who’s ever willing to just have a go with ball in hand. The curse of pathetic kicking seems to have afflicted each one in turn. Latest to catch the bug is the usually reliable Stefan Terblanche, who is quite honestly just going to pieces at the moment.

Ruan Pienaar is another who’s meant to be a real ball-playing genius, yet I wonder at what stage we are going to start reaping the rewards. He has been around for almost 4 years now and I can count his really good performances on one hand. The latest suggestion is that he’s unhappy because he was dropped in favour of Kockott, which I consider pretty bloody rich, considering how little Pienaar is actually contributing at the moment.

Thing are bad right now, guys, that’s for sure. We are heading into a do-or-die encounter with the Crusaders without a flyhalf and carrying a team, 75% of whom, seemingly, can’t be bothered to actually go out and put in a decent performance. We have one of the most highly rated packs in the competition, yet we can’t secure ball at the breakdown. We have a backline brimming with internationals, yet we have scored less that two tries per game on average. Most pertinently, we face the fight of our lives now to ensure a semi-final at all, given that right now the Crusaders WILL stuff us and the Cheetahs and Chiefs may well do the same.

We will, barring a major turnaround in fortunes, find ourselves in 6th position after next weekend. Who is going to stand up and save us from the ignominy of going from 1st to 6th in a single season? Not the ragtag bunch that conceded four tries to the Waratahs in 18 minutes of play, that’s for sure. Right now, we need to see the Sharks team that dug deep to pull off unlikely wins against the Blues and the Bulls. Where are those guys hiding and how do we get them back? Perhaps the decision not to take their mental coach on tour with them wasn’t the smartest one the Sharks management has made this season…


  • I gotta agree with everything mentioned especially questioning the logic of leaving the mental coach at home. I’d think a grueling five week away from friends, family and loved ones would be the most logically place when a mental coach would be needed.

    Hell I haven’t gone anywhere, still have my friends & family around and have lived/suffered/worried through these four weeks and I know I wish I had one especially after yesterday.

  • Comment 1, posted at 27.04.08 20:48:05 by Milissa Reply
  • Seems to me the pivotal moment was Taione’s brain implosion. At that point we were beating the Hurricanes and unbeaten in the Super 14. From then on things have gone downhill all the way. We were lucky to get a draw out of the Canes game and now the injuries are coming thick and fast. Not heaping all the blame on Epi…just saying that was the turning point.

    As for players not performing, maybe it’s time to play the bench players from the start? Guys like Burden, Adi, Henno and Deysel deserve a crack. My only reservation is that we’re up against the Crusaders next….but maybe give these guys a chance to show whether they are up to it?

  • Comment 2, posted at 27.04.08 21:09:03 by Villie Reply
    Competition Winner
  • I agree 100% Rob, I’ve been feeling that way about the Sharks performances since before our overseas leg – all the warning signs were there against the Lions & Reds. Perhaps we were all wearing our black & white glasses to be able to critisise.

    But this weekend was unaccepatable. Even sans Monty, Butch, Ackers & Smit we still should have pulled a more convincing & gutsy performance out of the bag than that. Or at least tried.

    Epi’s brain fart was the moment everything simply imploded. That Canes game should never have been drawn & it was the moment the cracks in the Sharks make-up really started showing.

  • Comment 3, posted at 27.04.08 23:15:33 by Le Requinny Reply
  • Whilst I won’t blame the coach for the poor tackling (Stefan hang your head in shame)… it is clear that Dick has reached saturation point with the Sharks… time for him to move on… and time for Sharks to go shopping OS…

  • Comment 4, posted at 28.04.08 01:36:19 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • I agree we should drop Stef. Odwa could work at fullback

  • Comment 5, posted at 28.04.08 08:57:07 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • some hard to swallow home truths in your article RD….man do i wish the real Sharks team would stand up to be counted

  • Comment 6, posted at 28.04.08 09:12:12 by spykerbaard Reply

  • Rob

    I was chatting to Odwa last year at the airport and one of the questions I asked him was what position he preferred and was slightly surprised when he said fullback. But he played 15 a lot in the CC and generally performed really well.

    I like Stefan but he’s had 2 iffy performances on the trot so a “break” should do him good. Also his weak attempt at a tackle on Palu was pretty embarassing!

  • Comment 7, posted at 28.04.08 09:46:04 by Villie Reply
    Competition Winner
  • Yeah. Odwa has NEVER disappointed at fullback and is one of the most committed players in the squad

  • Comment 8, posted at 28.04.08 09:48:22 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Also his weak attempt at a tackle on Palu was pretty embarassing!

    Comment 7 of 8, posted at 28.04.08 09:46:04 by Villie Edit

    He probably said to himself, EVEN if I hit this guy head on he is STILL gonna carry me over the tryline anyway so why risk hurting myself. 😉

  • Comment 9, posted at 28.04.08 09:50:25 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • So, serious question. Did the Sharks give up on Saturday?

  • Comment 10, posted at 28.04.08 10:24:58 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • I think so. Even if the don’t admit it, you could see it in their body language.

  • Comment 11, posted at 28.04.08 11:07:21 by Le Requinny Reply
  • I am speculating. I am not close to camp so I am assuming. Perhaps someone can enlighten me. I am wondering how our attacking play can become so impotent in one year. Is it perhaps because of David Campese’s departure? Is Dick the right man for the Springbok Backline coaching job?

  • Comment 12, posted at 28.04.08 11:13:22 by BigFAN Reply

  • Isn’t Bashford in charge of the backline this season?

  • Comment 13, posted at 28.04.08 11:18:30 by Le Requinny Reply
  • If he is – he is doing bugger nothing.

  • Comment 14, posted at 28.04.08 11:22:02 by BigFAN Reply

  • I dont think the sharks have really underperformed, 8 matches unbeaten must be some sort of record in the S14. expectations were alsways unlikely to be met after the previous S14 where 20 of the kiwis best did not take part and the loss of 4 senior crucial sharks players.
    The buy of Epi was a good one, but he did the unthinkable.

    The sharks at least never give up (tho Terreblanche’s half-attempt at a tackle on Palu should put him out to pasture), which you can say about everyone of the other SA teams at some point. They are still in with a shout, the crusaders was always going to be tough and they should’ve targetted the brumbies game, but dont write them off yet.

    I think Kankowski, Bismarck, BJ and Muller have all been outstanding.

  • Comment 15, posted at 28.04.08 11:31:02 by cab Reply

  • Sharks have not been impressive since the start of this year’s S14.

    The only time they came close to scoring 30 points was against the Bulls (see their log position) and that was probably just revenge for last years’ final.

    12-10 Over the Stormers, who were not playing well in the early rounds of this years competition. To put it in perspective, the next week at Newlands, the Crusaders scored all 22 points in the match whereas Sharks / Stomers “shared” 22 points.

    ONLY 16 points vs Lions (OK it was a tough away match) who have not been playing well since the start of Super rugby.

    They did beat the Reds, but so what? So have the Cheetahs.

    They were lucky to draw against the Canes and even luckier-er to beat the Dunedin mob by 2 points.

    Hell! maybe they were lucky to beat the Force and Blues too.

  • Comment 16, posted at 28.04.08 11:31:49 by Cru-El (BABVA) Reply

  • 1. Carstens 2. Bismarck 3. BJ
    4. Ackerman 5. Muller
    6. Botes 7. Epi 8. Kanko

    That pack would’ve taken anyone very close, but not to be.

  • Comment 17, posted at 28.04.08 11:36:26 by cab Reply

  • Comment 16 of 17, posted at 28.04.08 11:31:49 by Cru-El (BABVA)

    So true, Cru-El. That unbeaten run was very misleading – it was highly flaterring. Proof of the pudding is that we’ve only had 2 convincing performances out of 10 games. And you could even argue that one of those performances (vs the Bulls) was more a total last quarter perfomance asssisted by Bulls indicipline.

  • Comment 18, posted at 28.04.08 11:45:01 by Le Requinny Reply
  • Sheesh, so what backline do we pick vs Crusaders? Not like we have a hell of a lot of players to choose from…

    I agreed with KSA’s opinion on dropping Steyn for the Crusaders game but with Michalak out, I don’t think we can afford that. Stefan was a defensive liability & if fit, Barritt must come in so how abbout the following line-up? JP is really struggling this season, so have put Murray on wing for defense, but I’m not sure about that – however apart from him who else is there? Henno the Hands?

    9 -Kockett

    with JP & one of Stefan & Henno on bench.

  • Comment 19, posted at 28.04.08 11:49:35 by Le Requinny Reply
  • 🙄

    Um, is it by any chance a public holiday in SA today?

  • Comment 20, posted at 28.04.08 11:50:09 by Le Requinny Reply
  • LR,
    I phink so. 😀

  • Comment 21, posted at 28.04.08 11:52:29 by Cru-El (BABVA) Reply

  • Fancy that a different backline combination every single game…

  • Comment 22, posted at 28.04.08 12:12:17 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • Bryce, what is our first choice backline?

    Fark nobody knows. We need a hatchet job this weekend.

  • Comment 23, posted at 28.04.08 12:14:10 by Le Requinny Reply
  • No one in SA is doing any work this week! 3 days off.

  • Comment 24, posted at 28.04.08 12:20:36 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • what holiday?

    Blimey, can we celbrate them on Mud Island too?

  • Comment 25, posted at 28.04.08 12:23:30 by Le Requinny Reply
  • Today is off becasue yesterday 27 April (freedom day) was on a Sunday so it gets moved to Monday.

    Thursday is 1 May
    Friday is given off becasue Cosatu moaned that some holiday (Human rights day I think) fell on the same day as Easter.

    So only Tue/ Wed are work days in SA this week.

  • Comment 26, posted at 28.04.08 12:34:18 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • #26
    Was yesterday 17th 😯

    Better edit that comment too 😆

  • Comment 27, posted at 28.04.08 12:37:23 by Cru-El (BABVA) Reply

  • Eish, another week of productivity in SA then… 😯

  • Comment 28, posted at 28.04.08 12:38:16 by Le Requinny Reply
  • KSA,

    Please give me access to edit my comments too 😛

  • Comment 29, posted at 28.04.08 12:38:28 by Cru-El (BABVA) Reply

  • cru 😆

    I refreshed saw the error and noticed that nobody had commented yet so i thought I could fix it quickly.

    Not quick enough obviously 😳

  • Comment 30, posted at 28.04.08 12:40:41 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Hmm, what can we all talk about?

    I’m bored.

  • Comment 31, posted at 28.04.08 12:42:12 by Le Requinny Reply
  • How about how well the Sharks are going to do in the last three game?

    About how big a thumping the Bulls are gonaa give the Tahs?

  • Comment 32, posted at 28.04.08 12:53:20 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Yep Quinny we don’t know… but we haven’t let them settle for more than a game… a bit of tweaking is one thing… but 11 different variations…

    Injuries aside, the Tahs, Canes, Chiefs, Stormers have used the same backline and it has paid dividends…

    “Is it perhaps because of David Campese’s departure?”

    After a year at Northwood ‘to build them into a rugby power’… their first’s got pummelled 81-0 by Hilton a fortnight ago… 81-0!

  • Comment 33, posted at 28.04.08 12:55:13 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • How about the big thumping the Lions are gonna give the Hurricanes?

  • Comment 34, posted at 28.04.08 12:58:09 by Cru-El (BABVA) Reply

  • I was expecting that 81-0 to come up from you Bryce. 😉

    Bryce is Campo the 1st XV coach or DOR at Northlands

  • Comment 35, posted at 28.04.08 12:59:19 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Cru. 🙂

    There are certainly going to be a few deciders this weekend, but NEXT weekend is going to be definitive for some teams.

    Round 12

    2 Crusaders vs The Sharks Christchurch 09:35
    2 Western Force vs Chiefs Perth 13:05
    2 Vodacom Cheetahs vs Highlanders Bloemfontein 19:10
    3 Hurricanes vs Lions Wellington 09:35
    3 Reds vs Blues Brisbane 11:40
    3 Vodacom Bulls vs Waratahs Pretoria 15:00
    3 Vodacom Stormers vs Brumbies Cape Town 17:05

  • Comment 36, posted at 28.04.08 13:02:04 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • I thought Campo was assisiting with the Sevens team?

  • Comment 37, posted at 28.04.08 13:02:14 by Le Requinny Reply
  • A search of the Northwood website return no results on “Campese”

  • Comment 38, posted at 28.04.08 13:11:50 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Yeah I’m quite predictable eh KSA… 😆

    “We welcome David Campese (famous for his goose-step) who will join NorthwoodSchool as Director of Rugby coaching. David’s focus will be on a coach-the-coaches principle while also assisting with training the First Team”

  • Comment 39, posted at 28.04.08 13:12:13 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • Not only do we need Bulls to beat Tahs but do some damage….soften up a few of them! 😈

    Maybe a few key players like Vickerman and Tuqiri?

  • Comment 40, posted at 28.04.08 13:15:25 by Villie Reply
    Competition Winner
  • Okay have found this.

    Campo is the head coach.

    Northwood Rugby Dinner

    Northwood is holding a rugby dinner on 6 March 2008.
    – Our head coach and rugby legend David Campese is the guest speaker.
    – David will share some stories of his career and some
    thoughts on the rugby world today.

    Venue : Belvedere Room Durban Country Club
    Date : Thursday 6 March 2008
    Time : 19h00 for 19h30
    Dress : Smart / Lounge Suit with tie
    Cost : R300 per person.

  • Comment 41, posted at 28.04.08 13:18:30 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Here’s another hard truth – I dont think the Sharks have under-performed, if anything I think they’ve over-performed in the first half of the competition.

    A few things that are now starting to bite home. And bite hard at that.

    Firstly, you cannot have a side with a bunch of Jack-of-all-trades.
    In this I include Frans Steyn, Pienaar, Burden, etc etc ect.
    There is something to be said for consistency in this competition and Dickie simply hasnt ensured that.

    I dont think this is a particularly great side at the moment. They’ve got some good players and its a fairly strong pack but its not a world-beater side by any stretch and the wheels have started coming off to a degree.
    I think if you go back and watch some of the earlier games this season you’ll see a fair amount of good fortune and some inspiring play from the likes of Kankowski and Steyn. Only problem now is that Steyn isnt firing and, let’s face it, he’s a bit of a wunderkind who can fire hot and cold and due to the extreme “arrogance” with which he plays if its doesn’t come off spectacularly well it’s gonna come off spectacularly poorly.
    Reminds me a bit of one Carlos Spencer in that regard.

    Everybody loves fireworks but coaches value consistency above all else.

    Drop the kid – he needs to be brought down to earth.

    And he needs a haircut.

  • Comment 42, posted at 28.04.08 13:20:46 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • Don’t know if he is still there with his Aussie sevens job now…..

  • Comment 43, posted at 28.04.08 13:21:37 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • Sorry gents I did not read any of the comments above only Rob’s article as I am pressed for time.

    Had a chat to KSA earlier though and will say what I said to him, and what I said before the Sharks went on tour.

    I mentioned that the only thing saving them is their defense, as many of you agreed, but where most did not agree with me is when I said it is going to cost them against the better teams and when the pressure is on, like is the case now.

    I have my theories on what went wrong where, most of which wrong selections and a typical case of where rotation policies are used to the detriment of the team. The relative succcess and surprised success of the Stormers has largely been due to settled combinations, as any champion team does.

    I am not a fan of rotation, and I am not a fan of ‘jack of all trades’ players or policies in a team – Jake White had the same.

    I like specialists, and I like settled combinations.

    Pienaar has been in poor form for this whole year, it is dissapointing.

    An argument now about Steyn I reckon is fruitless, because although for some he proved he is not the best 12, I think it is an unfair assessment as this was his first game there, where they lost their 10 in the first 20 and came up against a team on the roll at home – so the Steyn argument will not be settled.

    I have one very imoportant question though, and not because I know the oke but because I reckon at this stage of the competition, and when on tour, the only real battle you have is a mental one, the mentally tough teams will make it through – SO WHY IS TIM, THE SHARKS MENTAL STRENGTH COACH AT HOME?

    It really makes no sense to me.

    Dick is going, we all know this, and maybe he is not all there at the moment, which makes Tim’s presence even more important, not only for the players, but coaches too.

    Things are falling apart, and there is no-one there to glue them all back together.

  • Comment 44, posted at 28.04.08 13:21:45 by MorneN Reply
  • Well said PA.

    And most importantly. WHy is the mind coach in SA and not in Aus. Not just because we are struggling, but i would expect a mind coach to be a given on a tour such as this.

    Come week 3,4 and 5 of the tour the player need mental strength more than anything else

  • Comment 45, posted at 28.04.08 13:33:42 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • mr price may be kak right now but its not all doom and gloom. They will win their last two games. The chiefs look great but they play a run-at-all-cost game that will fall flat against a good defence. Remember how awesome the blues looked until they played against mr price.
    That should be enough to get a semi spot. If the semi is in NZ, end of story, but if it’s in cape town or durban, they may go further.
    Then all they need to do is wear their Jesus t-shirts and hope for a miracle.

  • Comment 46, posted at 29.04.08 01:46:16 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld

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