Muller and Bis in doubt as Pienaar steps up at 10

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :In the news, Sharks, Super 14 on 28 Apr 2008 at 22:23

Frederic Michalak’s departure from the Sharks scene might well end up being a blessing in disguise because the stuttering backline has an opportunity for a second start, this time under the guidance of Ruan Pienaar.

Mike Greenaway, reporting for IOL, is on tour with the Sharks.

Pienaar had moments of brilliance against the Waratahs and could have played better and more consistently had his lightweight pack of forwards not been given a hiding at the breakdowns.

On Monday morning the Sharks trained at the picturesque Clearwater Resort near Christchurch where they have based themselves ahead of the Crusaders game on Friday, and it was clear that it is Pienaar that will be charged with reviving the Sharks’ fortunes.

The Clearwater resort has a Championship golf course sprawled alongside rivers, lakes and trees which are in rich, autumn colours.

Many rugby critics have long contended that flyhalf is Pienaar’s best position because of the fluidity and ease with which he distributes the ball down the backline, and Sharks coach Dick Muir will be giving the 24-year-old an extended run in the position so that Pienaar can decide whether he wants to make a full go of the position.

Given that South Africa has a shortage of quality flyhalves, but a preponderance of scrumhalves, it might not be a bad career move for Pienaar, who has found himself behind Rory Kockott at 9 this season, although Muir says that in his long-term planning he had Pienaar down to start at scrumhalf against the Crusaders.

The jury is still out as to the impact Michalak made with the Sharks.

There was no denying his skill and talent, and he impressed with his defence, but language in such a vital position was a problem, and often he communicated by sign language.

There was always going to be an adjustment period and, sadly, Michalak was just starting to show signs that he was settling down, and that the players were getting used to him, when he got injured.

In another probable change to the backline, Bradley Barritt seems over his shoulder injury and will resume at 12, with Frans Steyn reverting to 13 and Waylon Murray to the bench.

The return of Barritt will be a boost because of his organisational skills, especially on defence.

There are two major concerns regarding the forwards. Captain Johann Muller and hooker Bismarck du Plessis did not train because of calf and sternum injuries respectively and a decision on their participation in the game will be taken on Wednesday.

Muller’s leadership was missed against the Waratahs and Du Plessis’s bulk and fiery demeanour would be heavily missed in a pack that this season has been short on grunt at the best of times.

In a probable unforced change, Muir and John Plumtree will beef up their loose trio by replacing Keegan Daniel with either Jean Deysel or AJ Venter.


  • No Muller or Bismarck? Good night nurse.

  • Comment 1, posted at 28.04.08 22:26:09 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Sadly I think AJ’s time at the top is over. He wasn’t the quickest to start with and now age seem to be catching up and the game is speeding up.

  • Comment 2, posted at 28.04.08 22:33:48 by racheltjiedebeer Reply

  • yeah. Shit, if Bis is out, they will no doubt start with Skipper, who hasn’t played any rugby in over a month. Then AJ will be at lock with vd Berg, Deysel at 7 leaving Keegan as the only extra forward on bench.

  • Comment 3, posted at 28.04.08 22:37:31 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Eish…

  • Comment 4, posted at 29.04.08 02:18:24 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • C’mon Sharks!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment 5, posted at 29.04.08 06:35:34 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Hard to find that silver lining in them clouds right now. More likely lightning anyway. This is where heart comes in. On paper, we have no chance. But the game ain’t played on paper.

  • Comment 6, posted at 29.04.08 07:06:39 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • BF.

    exactly why I only said Go Sharks in my last post. Becoming increasingly difficult for me to stay upbeat about our chances.

    Go Sharks!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment 7, posted at 29.04.08 07:08:42 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • The one silver lining is that alluded to in the article, trying Piennaar in the 10 position for an extended run.

    Kockott at the moment is the better scrum-half (let me duck while Dancing Bear throws various objects at me) and Jake White at the end of his Bok coaching period was stating he believe Ruan was the next Bok 10.

    So let’s wait and see….

  • Comment 8, posted at 29.04.08 09:03:45 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • Ruan, to my mind, has a head problem, just like Steyn does. We’ll have to see how this pans out.

    Still, with our big guns missing in the pack, all the backs are going to be able to show is how well they can tackle.

  • Comment 9, posted at 29.04.08 09:13:56 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator

  • Comment 10, posted at 29.04.08 09:35:55 by Cru-El (BABVA) Reply

  • :mrgreen:

  • Comment 11, posted at 29.04.08 09:46:00 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Comment 10 of 10, posted at 29.04.08 09:35:55 by Cru-El (BABVA)

    …and you and Danny is that all healthy? 😉

  • Comment 12, posted at 29.04.08 09:46:48 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • Comment 9 of 12, posted at 29.04.08 09:13:56 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!)

    Tackling to my mind is Pienaar’s biggest weakness….hope there are no opposition coaches reading here but if I was a coach of any team playing a team with Pienaar in it, I would instruct my biggest, meanest, uglest forward to run at Pienaar’s channel regularly. With Ruan’s breast fetish tackles they will gain a good 7m to 10m everytime.

  • Comment 13, posted at 29.04.08 09:52:53 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • looks like they might be without Tuiali’i… that might be a blseeing for us, as he would take great pride in running all over Ruan.

    You’d have to bring Barritt into the flyhalf channel on defence, move everyone else up one spot and hide Ruan on the wing.

  • Comment 14, posted at 29.04.08 09:54:16 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • #10
    On the other hand…
    A Bok centre pair of 12-Wynand Olivier and 13-Frans Steyn would be fun to watch as Frans would have to be in touch to catch Wynand’s pass.
    At least that will get him off the field.

  • Comment 15, posted at 29.04.08 09:56:12 by Cru-El (BABVA) Reply

  • Eish!! Sharks are making life very difficult for themselves. I was looking forward to the Crusaders match up to 2 weeks ago.Now I’m terrified

  • Comment 16, posted at 29.04.08 09:56:36 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • #14

    9 Kockett
    10 Barrit
    11 JP
    12 Adi
    13 Murray
    14 Pienaar
    15 Odwa

    Frans to take long hair weekend.

  • Comment 17, posted at 29.04.08 09:59:09 by Cru-El (BABVA) Reply

  • I’m not sure why they keep trying to drop Murray. He was good on defense against the Tahs…

  • Comment 18, posted at 29.04.08 10:00:38 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Why oh why must we keep playing musical chairs in the backline? The only player who knows where he will play is Brad- he has a season ticket obviously. Seems JP and Murray are taking turns playing scape-goat.

  • Comment 19, posted at 29.04.08 10:55:23 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • Ditto to the above… if Barrit is sweet drop Frans to the bench and keep the rest the same (as they should have been all season injuries permitting)… or alternatively Frans to 15 (if DM wants him in the mix for the long range penalties… if not leave him @ 12…

    IMO Sader’s will attack the 10/12 channel all night if Adi and RP are there…

    Now more importantly any news on the third lock and if Burden will be starting… AJ is no flank anymore… too slow/sluggish best at lock… after seeing Botes and Keegan manhandled by Waugh and co… Deysel has to start too…

  • Comment 20, posted at 29.04.08 11:43:19 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • Ackermann is not with the squad – I’ve had that confirmed by two people who are on the tour.

    So it looks like we’ll have a Venter/VDB combo again if Muller isn’t passed fit.


  • Comment 21, posted at 29.04.08 11:45:42 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • But who is on the bench then Rob?

  • Comment 22, posted at 29.04.08 14:02:47 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • No-one! There isn’t anyone else.

  • Comment 23, posted at 29.04.08 14:05:06 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Egads thats what I thought… Plumtree might have to kit up… he’s not much older than Ackerman anyways… 😉

  • Comment 24, posted at 29.04.08 14:10:19 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • Where Shimmy when you need him… he’s played lock before hasn’t he… lol!

  • Comment 25, posted at 29.04.08 14:11:22 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • Maybe Frans can play lock

  • Comment 26, posted at 29.04.08 14:12:11 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Why not… kind of in the John Eales mould… can kick long range penalties and drop goals… 😉

  • Comment 27, posted at 29.04.08 14:26:09 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • Alister Hargreaves???

  • Comment 28, posted at 29.04.08 14:27:08 by wpw (YNWA) Reply
  • Looks like the Sharks can’t escape ROTATION.

    Dick Muir changes the backline all the time…cos he can…and now we have to deal with forced changes.

    Anyway…time to stop feeling sorry for ourselves…it’s not like we didn’t expect a tough tour. Time to wake up and get some crucial points in the remaining games…with or without bruises.

  • Comment 29, posted at 29.04.08 15:02:24 by blackshark (JAWS) Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!

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