KSA Shark ©

Have the Sharks regained the X-factor?

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :Currie Cup, In the news, Sharks on 18 Sep 2008 at 10:31

Mike Greenaway delivers some ‘unsettling’ news for Sharks supporters

Here is the unsettling news for Sharks supporters. Since their team last won a trophy, in 1996 when they beat Transvaal in the Currie Cup final at Ellis Park, the boys in black-and-white have lost 14 times in semi-finals or finals in the two competitions in which they compete, the Currie Cup and the Super 12/14.

FOURTEEN TIMES! That is 12 years of systematic disappointment. So many so-near-yet-so-fars.

During this torturous journey, the Sharks have suffered more than their fair share of the misfortune that inevitably singles out one of the teams in these sudden-death games, and on some occasions it has been a case of the Sharks having no price against a team that was having its cyclical year in the sun.

The Sharks have found that there are no trophies for consistently coming second, no silverware for the good fellowship they have so often shown in playing the supporting role on the day.

But bad luck notwithstanding, my experience of covering the Sharks for the past 12 years tells me that some of those 14 defeats could have been victories had there been that innate, intrinsic, “16th man” strength that is the proud preserve of teams who are a band of brothers and brothers-in-arms.

Too often over the past decade the Sharks have simply been groups of mercenaries who have had common goals – win bonuses above all – but first and foremost they been individuals. Very talented individuals, often enough, which is why the Sharks have always been there and thereabouts, but often they have fallen short at the last or second-last hurdle because they have not had that X-factor that separates the pretenders from the genuine contenders and from the champions.

Too often the conceited players have had no one but themselves to blame for the defeats.

In the 1990s the Sharks had that X-factor to burn. It was the ethanol that fuelled them to those four Currie Cup titles under Ian McIntosh.

The team that Mac built had its imports, make no mistake, but it was primarily a Natal team and the imports added flesh to the Natal backbone and, after a while, they were as black-and-white as Craig Jamieson, Hugh Reece-Edwards, Tony Watson, John Allan, Steve Atherton or Gary Teichmann.

Unfortunately for the Sharks, the legends departed just about in one fell swoop. By the time Mac retired after the 1999 Currie Cup final defeat against Transvaal, along with Teich, Henry Honiball and Andre Joubert, there were not too many heroes left beyond Mark Andrews and Wayne Fyvie.

A turnover of coaches generally followed. Poor Hugh Reece-Edwards had no chance in 2000 with a new squad of players who had trouble recognising each other at the bar. Rudolf Straeuli settled things down the next year but then left to coach the Boks.

In the dismal Kevin Putt years, the Sharks hit rock-bottom as the infamous no-name brands were bought from bastions such as the Pumas because the heavyweights of SA rugby were not keen on boarding a sinking ship.

The Sharks were also guilty of neglecting their internal feeder systems.

But they pulled themselves together. The Sharks Academy was born and immediately produced players of the calibre of Clyde Rathbone.

Dick Muir began bringing through home-grown talent, including the cream of the academy.

By the time Muir moved on at the end of this year’s Super 14, some of the foundations had been laid for a new Sharks empire.

But it has been in the current Currie Cup, through new head coach John Plumtree’s insistence on traditional rugby values, that we are seeing a genuine revival of the Sharks as a close-knit family.

You can see it in the way the team is playing.

It takes a special set of circumstances and a special management team before the penny drops with a well-paid player that rugby is not about his ego and his individual needs.

Then a player WANTS to put the team ahead of himself and make that cover tackle or push harder in the scrum.

The Sharks have passed that threshold. Titles are not far off. I can feel it in my bones.


  • nobody has been closer to the Sharks over the last 12 years than Mike G… you can believe what he says

  • Comment 1, posted at 18.09.08 10:42:30 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • speaking of the “no-name brands”… here’s a piece I wrote a year or so ago about the “unlucky 13” that Putt brought in:

    What of the unlucky 13?

    As many may recall, Kevin Putt and the rest of the Sharks management were widely criticised at the beginning of last year for bringing in 13 so-called “no-name brand” players, to plug some of the glaring holes in the squad. The much-maligned Putt has since been forced to walk the plank and the Sharks have turned themselves around to some extent. What of the 13, though? I thought I’d do a bit of write-up on where they are now.

    1. Danie Saayman – One of a number of guys that came across from the Pumas, Danie is still very much a part of the Sharks squad, as the clear second-choice tight head behind BJ Botha. Although not a massive contributor in open play, Danie does a superb job in the scrums. A successful acquisition
    2. Bismarck du Plessis – Bismarck came across from the Cheetahs u/21 ranks, having represented South Africa at this level. He is currently the Sharks second choice hooker, behind John Smit. He has had a reasonable Super 14 and is sure to get plenty of game time in this year’s Currie Cup, having missed all of last year’s competition through injury. Needs to work on his lineouts, but is superb with ball in hand. A successful acquisition.
    3. Skipper Badenhorst – Skipper, ironically, played in the Affies first team at the same time as John was plying his trade across the road at Boys’ High. Deemed surplus to requirements at the Bulls, he also plied his trade for the Pumas, before moving to Durban. Skipper is currently sitting fourth in the hooker pecking order, having slipped behind the promising young Jody Jenneker. His basic skills are too often found wanting and he tends to blow hot and cold too often. Not a successful acquisition.
    4. Callie Wannenburg – Pedrie’s younger brother, another youngster that came across from Witbank. Callie struggled to establish himself and was released at the beginning of the year to join the SWD Eagles. Not a successful acquisition.
    5. Braam Immelman – A promising loose forward from the Cape who struggled to crack the nod at WP, as so many born-and-bred youngsters seem to in that part of the world. Braam has plenty of pace and is quite big, but seems to lack the aggressive edge necessary to be a real enforcer. He has done well in the Vodacom Cup this year, scoring plenty tries, but has been anonymous in his few Super 14 appearances. Still, a guy that adds value to the squad, although will struggle to crack the first-choice 22. The jury is out.
    6. Jacques Botes – Wow! Top South African forward try scorer in the Super 14. What more can you ask for? Jacques is a player that Dick Muir knows well from his Tukkies days and his faith in the youngster has been richly rewarded. Of the Puma acquisitions, Jacques is the most valuable by some margin – a true gem with plenty of pace, vision and flair. This boy has Springbok written all over him. A successful acquisition.
    7. Jaco Gouws – Jaco came over from SWD, where he had already notched up an impressive number of caps. I feel he struggled to find his feet when asked to captain the Sharks in the Super 12 last year, but since then has done well. He has led the Wildebeest team in the Vodacom Cup with distinction and proved a great source of inspiration to the youngsters in the team. With AJ Venter likely to be withdrawn, Jaco is going to be an important member of the Currie Cup team this year, where he will have to show his mettle as the enforcer in the loose trio. A great team man and valuable squad member. A successful acquisition.
    8. Ruan Pienaar – Another who came across from the States, having represented the Cheetahs and South Africa at u/21 level. You don’t get a better pedigree (his dad is Gysie Pienaar) and Ruan has showed his class from the start. A well-deserved call up to the Bok training squad this year is a testament to this. A successful acquisition.
    9. Jacques Schutte – The less said about this youngster the better. He also came from the Pumas and was supposed to be both a fly half and a fullback, although he didn’t really look like either. Has apparently been shipped off to some unsuspecting bunch in Italy (who clearly never saw him play before signing the papers). Not a successful acquisition.
    10. Gcobani Bobo – Bobs has just never been the same since his injury. He has lost pace and confidence and just doesn’t seem able to get them back. Currently playing for the Wildebeest, having disappointed repeatedly at Super 12/14 level, although I believe he is keeping talented youngster like Murray and Vermeulen out of that side. Not a successful acquisition.
    11. Dean Hall- Dean has had just about exactly the same problems as Bobo. There’s nothing wrong with his attitude and he has shown time and time again how hard he’s prepared to work to get back into the game. I just feel that he’s really behind the curve when it comes to winger play. His hands aren’t that good and he’s not really all that quick either. There are also plenty 100kg wingers around these days, so his competitive advantage has been nullified to an extent. It pains me to say so, but this has not been a successful acquisition.
    12. Odwa Ndungane – Odwa started about as badly as it’s possible to do, but through hard work and a lot of attention from the likes of Dick Muir and David Campese, he has started to come right. Odwa, who had a pretty good debut Super 12 for the Bulls in 2004, was sensational in the Super 14 this year and has emerged as one of the sharpest weapons in the Sharks’ arsenal. Certainly the first name Dick Muir will write down when selecting his back three. A successful acquisition.
    13. Tshepo Kokoali – Tshepo was a pretty regular member of the Free State Currie Cup team in 2004, but has struggled with form and injury since joining the Sharks. He has made a few appearances for the Wildebeest this year, but is way behind Hennessey and Goosen in the pecking order. Never mind the fact that Montgomery, Russell and Pietersen are all ahead of these two. Tshepo needs to resurrect his career somewhere other than Durban. Not a successful acquisition.

    So – where does that leave us? Of the thirteen, six have clearly added value, six have definitely not (of those, two have already left) and the last, Braam Immelman, is neither here not there. Not a roaring success, you might say, but then again, also not the terrible disaster that was roundly predicted.

    Certainly, I’m very glad to have Botes, Pienaar, du Plessis and Ndungane in the fold!

  • Comment 2, posted at 18.09.08 10:49:43 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : not a bad analysis there Robbo… 😉

  • Comment 3, posted at 18.09.08 10:53:32 by just blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • well, history has proved me wrong about some of them

  • Comment 4, posted at 18.09.08 10:55:09 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Back to the main article…

    I hope Mike’s bones are better than mine when it comes to this predicting thing cos I’ve been seeing titles coming our way since forever…

    We’ve had good players…we’ve played good rugby…but this X-factor thing is really hard to get…I really hope we have it this time around.

    Sharks forever…

  • Comment 5, posted at 18.09.08 10:58:16 by just blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @robdylan (Comment 4) : In a small way…but I think you called it right…

  • Comment 6, posted at 18.09.08 11:00:41 by just blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @just blackshark (Comment 6) : you’re too kind.

    I think, when referring to Putt, the appropriate phrase is “even a blind squirrel is bound to find a nut once in a while”

  • Comment 7, posted at 18.09.08 11:21:48 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Mike G tempting fate a little bit here.
    Don’t torture us with hope, Mike 🙂

  • Comment 8, posted at 18.09.08 11:23:40 by CapeShark Reply
    The Great Couch Shark
  • @robdylan (Comment 7) : 😆

  • Comment 9, posted at 18.09.08 11:31:30 by just blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • And then they say the AB’s are chokers… 😈 😈 😈

  • Comment 10, posted at 18.09.08 12:12:23 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver Fox
  • Poor old Sharks supporters must feel like the AB’s right about now…

  • Comment 11, posted at 18.09.08 12:28:06 by MorneN Reply
  • @MorneN (Comment 11) : don’t go there! 😉

  • Comment 12, posted at 18.09.08 12:30:58 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • As a one eyed Sharks supporter I have seen lots of that “16th man strength” that mr Greenaway writes about. Unfortuneatly he is always running around with a whistle dictating the games outcome and supplying the necessary strength to the opposition. 😈

  • Comment 13, posted at 18.09.08 12:46:13 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @Salmonoid (Comment 13) : classic 😉

  • Comment 14, posted at 18.09.08 12:50:38 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • There’s no need to be a one eyed supporter,they might not have won anything, but for 12 years the Sharks have nearly always been good value for money, better than any other SA team … and there is definitely something special happening with this present squad…

  • Comment 15, posted at 18.09.08 12:58:19 by spykerbaard Reply

  • Did they ever have it bar a few fluky cup wins in the nineties?

  • Comment 16, posted at 18.09.08 13:09:04 by Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire Sauce
  • 7. Jaco Gouws – Jaco came over from SWD, where he had already notched up an impressive number of caps. I feel he struggled to find his feet when asked to captain the Sharks in the Super 12 last year, but since then has done well. He has led the Wildebeest team in the Vodacom Cup with distinction and proved a great source of inspiration to the youngsters in the team. With AJ Venter likely to be withdrawn, Jaco is going to be an important member of the Currie Cup team this year, where he will have to show his mettle as the enforcer in the loose trio. A great team man and valuable squad member. A successful acquisition.

    Captain oh Hamiltons first XV and is actually going back to SWD(following his coach Johan Lerm – about 4 other okes also going)

  • Comment 17, posted at 18.09.08 13:23:18 by PJLD Reply
  • @MorneN (Comment 11) : :mrgreen:

  • Comment 18, posted at 18.09.08 13:25:13 by PJLD Reply
  • Oh no… what a larf!

    It’s Inside Rugby’s last episode for the season and they have just shown a highlights section… and guess who got his own small section called ‘better than Seinfeld’???

    Fokkin Snor and his best of live quotes… oh no! 😳

  • Comment 19, posted at 18.09.08 13:30:42 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • ag shame

  • Comment 20, posted at 18.09.08 13:33:25 by CoffeeShopBok;-) Reply

  • all together now


    group hug 😎

  • Comment 21, posted at 18.09.08 13:34:15 by CoffeeShopBok;-) Reply

  • it was bound to happen

  • Comment 22, posted at 18.09.08 13:35:10 by PJLD Reply
  • @PJLD (Comment 17) : ummm- yeah. The jury is kinda out on whether he actually did ANYTHING of note in Durbs…

  • Comment 23, posted at 18.09.08 14:07:59 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Too many times have I supported the sharks in a final and known we would not make it..

    I really thought they buried the hoodoo last final.. but how cruel a cut was the last seconds!

  • Comment 24, posted at 18.09.08 15:09:46 by beez Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : You’ve missed Adi Jacobs… 😉

  • Comment 25, posted at 18.09.08 15:16:13 by Charlie Reply

  • @Charlie (Comment 25) : Nah – Adi came before then.

    These were the 13 guys that Putt bought just before the 2005 season

  • Comment 26, posted at 18.09.08 15:32:34 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @MorneN (Comment 11) :

    Yet they are concidered as the best team in the world, yet you guys just won’t admit that we are the best team in SA. 😛

  • Comment 27, posted at 18.09.08 15:50:33 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @robdylan (Comment 26) : I know, but Putty still had a hand in Jacobs joining the Sharks family… :mrgreen:

  • Comment 28, posted at 18.09.08 16:15:07 by Charlie Reply

  • @Charlie (Comment 28) : to be honest, I won’t say a bad word about Kevin Putt. That guy had the world on his shoulders and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone

  • Comment 29, posted at 18.09.08 16:31:05 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 7) : Would that apply to the Sharks as well?

  • Comment 30, posted at 18.09.08 22:02:14 by klempie Reply

  • “Titles are not far off. I can feel it in my bones.”

    WHY?? Why’d he have to go and say that?? 👿 Also, WTH does Rathbone get a mention for?

  • Comment 31, posted at 18.09.08 22:05:21 by klempie Reply


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