I like what I see

Written by Morné Nortier (Morné)

Posted in :Original Content on 9 Mar 2009 at 09:20

There is a real change in the Super 14 this year, and I like it.

If you are looking for the biggest pessimist when it comes to SA Rugby, look no further than yours truly!

Maybe years of commentating on the same old crap has attributed to my state of mind in SA Rugby but in my defense, we really did follow exactly the same patterns specifically when it came to competing in the Super rugby competition.

This year however there is a change, and in specifically in one team, the Sharks.

I wrote before the season started that the Sharks season will be defined by 3 major points; Plum’s ability as a Super rugby head coach in his rookie season, the selection of Muller ahead of John Smit as captain, and the new combinations specifically those of 9, 10, 12 and 13.

Although not completely convinced (it is still early days) in one or two departments, the Sharks have definitely made me think there may be a case of real optimism for the Super 14 for the first time ever…

As Plumtree mentioned, this team is far from the finished product but in some ways, that is quite scary!

Questions also still hangs over the depth in crucial positions like 10 and 12 but one cannot base an opinion on a team on what ‘might’ happen or if someone does get injured.

What I find most impressive of the Sharks is not so much on an individual basis or specific players, it is the whole aura this team carries.

There is a calmness and maturity in this team I have never witnesses with South African rugby sides.

It seems that this team knows what is expected of them, but more importantly, they seem to know and understand how to get the job done.

I have seen this before in one other team in recent years gone by – the Crusaders.

At times the Saders were not the best team on the park, and even the competition, but they were unflappable in their belief in each other and their structures which always gave them the edge even before kick-off.

I have always maintained that rugby is a very simple game, where there is not much difference between any team, coach or players at specific levels (such as the Super 14) and how they train, approach or play the game – the main difference is how they execute these simple things.

Paramount to executing anything successfully is in your approach, and one thing that is very obvious to me in the current Sharks team, as was the case with the Crusaders, is how calm they are.

This aspect of the Sharks game is most surprising to me, especially given how many youngsters they have in their team, and to show this level of maturity is something I did not expect.

One would usually associate this type of approach with a team or players that have loads of experience, but with the Sharks it happens across the board, even their youngsters.

As a coach you can teach players many things – guide them if they are inexperienced and give them your assurances and trust as a coach, but you have a better chance of whistling the tune of Waltzing Matilda out of your a-hole than trying to coach a player to remain calm in highly stressful situations.

So if you are looking for one thing in 2009 that is different than all the other years we played in this competition, then simply look to how calm the Sharks are in their approach and execution in their quest to win some silverware.

It is still a long way to go in this competition, but from experience I believe that even if you do lose player personnel along the way but you retain this type of approach, you will still be successful.

And this pessimist might just turn into an optimist for a change.


  • damnit what rubbish is this. i am the official sharks pessimist. i have the trade mark. 😆

  • Comment 1, posted at 09.03.09 09:24:59 by try time Reply
  • @try time (Comment 1) :

    YEAH…YOU can be glad I did not get hold of you on Saturday!! 🙄 😉

  • Comment 2, posted at 09.03.09 09:42:39 by Ice (you can leave your hat on!) Reply
  • Very good article Morne, nice to see no stirring for a change!

    I think what the Sharks have that is standing them in such good stead is a settled team and a professional one. A bit of luck and lots of experience has really helped our cause as well.

    I think if ever Plumtree had his detractors (I do not count myself in this grouping), he has answered them and then some.

    I think above all, the Sharks know how to win. Be it if they have to grimly hang on, or just do the job, they know how. 16 wins in a row, hell, that;s not bad.

    And as in the Cheetahs case, losing becomes a habit, so winning does as well.

    I’m sure the win bonuses don’t hurt either!

  • Comment 3, posted at 09.03.09 09:51:55 by Baldrick Reply
  • Nice read Morne, Two things though.

    The Sharks have a few young players but the majority of this side have seen action in more than one season of Super 14 and quite a few of them have played in a Super14 final already.

    Young yes, but also experienced.

    The second thing is we have been lucky thusfar and have not had to battle with injuries as most of the other top teams who are not doing well have had to.

    Lady luck is smiling on the Sharks in terms of injuries and I just hope she keeps smiling.

  • Comment 4, posted at 09.03.09 09:53:01 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @Baldrick (Comment 3) : i have always liked plum. i remember rating him above dick in 2007. stefan however i have never liked, but people may not have picked that up.

  • Comment 5, posted at 09.03.09 09:54:19 by try time Reply
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 4) : although we could be without a lock, so hopefully albert is ready.

  • Comment 6, posted at 09.03.09 09:55:12 by try time Reply
  • @try time (Comment 5) :

    What is your grief with Oom Stef?

  • Comment 7, posted at 09.03.09 09:56:24 by blackshark Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 4) :

    Don’t jinx the boys…

  • Comment 8, posted at 09.03.09 09:57:10 by blackshark Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blackshark (Comment 7) : he wastes far too much go forward ball for a backline player. although his defence is solid, he wastes tries. on saturday he gave away 10 points. 3 for not running the ball out at the end of the 1st half and the try he gave away by kicking the ball dead instead of touching it down. he threw that try away when he had odwa on his outside and he kicked the ball straight out. and those are the bad mistakes from one game. nevermind the other tries he threw away in previous games. stefan is a player i would use in wet conditions but not a player if you want bonus points.

  • Comment 9, posted at 09.03.09 10:04:39 by try time Reply
  • @blackshark (Comment 8) :

    Damn right. I don’t want to jinx them, but we HAVE been very fortunate on that front and you seldom go through a season without an injury.

    I don’t want to get my hopes up to early in the season.

  • Comment 10, posted at 09.03.09 10:09:36 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 10) :

    Let’s not forget we had quite a number of pre-season niggles…and we’ve just lost Deysel – we’ve served our sentence … 🙂

  • Comment 11, posted at 09.03.09 10:11:38 by blackshark Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blackshark (Comment 11) : and hargreaves.

  • Comment 12, posted at 09.03.09 10:13:02 by try time Reply
  • On the injury front it is significant to note the points below (in bold).

    Top South African sports scientist Dr Tim Noakes believes the Springboks could pay a dear price for the Super 14 sides refusal to give national players a rest during the off-season.

    Noakes has predicted that a number of top Springboks may not make the British and Irish Lions series as they will break down before then. The head of South Africa’s Institute for Sports Science was a driving force behind Jake White’s World Cup success and persuaded SA Rugby to rest the Boks for long periods before the World Cup in 2007, with the Boks winning the trophy. But Noakes told Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Sondag the writing is on the wall for the Boks.

    “I don’t want to predict anything, but there are two definite differences between the way the South African Super 14 sides have rested their players,” Noakes told Sondag.

    Noakes said that players needed at least six to eight weeks rest between seasons, and only the Sharks had given their players six weeks off. According to Noakes the Stormers gave Boks Jean de Villiers and Conrad Jantjes only two weeks off in. The Bulls did a similar thing with their players.

    “If players don’t get at least six to eight weeks rest for two consecutive years, they have the danger of being injured because their bodies cant take it.”

    Noakes believes the Springboks could lose several players before the Lions series because of this.

    “What we have here is a natural experiment. You have one team that has rested their Boks and two teams that didn’t. At the end of the Super 14 season we will see who has the better outcome of this experiment,” Noakes told Sondag.

    The Boks face the Lions in a three Test series in June.


    This raises some concern with me.

    Shouldn’t rassie have used his extra 3 weeks to rest his players?
    Did Ludeke realise this is an issue and that is why his Boks only played 1 warm-up game?

  • Comment 13, posted at 09.03.09 10:13:18 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @try time (Comment 9) :

    Yeah – he does have his mistakes…but the man adds much more than he subtracts.

    Stefan is safe! I think the rest of the backs are able to play an open game because they trust their fullback. He needs to work on his decision-making but I wouldn’t trade him for any other 15 in the country right now…well maybe a younger Percy… 😆

  • Comment 14, posted at 09.03.09 10:18:10 by blackshark Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blackshark (Comment 14) :

    i think TT’s problem with Oubaas Terblanche is just a age-phobia thing… 😈 😈

  • Comment 15, posted at 09.03.09 10:21:25 by Ice (you can leave your hat on!) Reply
  • About doing the basics right. There are very few basic errors. Very few knock-ons and very few spilt chances. Looking at the Cheetah’s as an example,they create lots of chances , but lose the plot at crucial times. The Sharks look composed and rightly so, the comparason to the Crusaders ( of the last couple of years ) They know they can improve and so they should. They do seem to go on the defensive towards the end of the game that could cost them. I would like to see more tries from 1st phase ball and not just ‘turnover tries’

  • Comment 16, posted at 09.03.09 10:23:09 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 13) : the kiwis are also losing their stars due to an extended year end tour. they are suffering more than we are, but in saying that so far the boks players injured is also not good. victor, habana, jantjies, jean, juan and that is the only ones i remember.

  • Comment 17, posted at 09.03.09 10:25:48 by try time Reply
  • @Ice (you can leave your hat on!) (Comment 15) : nah compare stefan to percy and it is chalk and cheese. stefan is just overrated.

  • Comment 18, posted at 09.03.09 10:26:46 by try time Reply
  • @try time (Comment 17) :

    And from the teams that didn’t give their players extended rest periods.

  • Comment 19, posted at 09.03.09 10:28:00 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @try time (Comment 18) :

    well – we all have our own opinions… 😉

  • Comment 20, posted at 09.03.09 10:31:46 by Ice (you can leave your hat on!) Reply
  • @try time (Comment 18) :

    And it helps nothing to do comparisons…Percy is gone (and by no means playing as he did for us…)I think Stefans’ experience is doing exacltly what percy’s did when he played for the Sharks – he is what we have now -and IMO not shabby at it either…

  • Comment 21, posted at 09.03.09 10:33:45 by Ice (you can leave your hat on!) Reply
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 19) :

    It’s just a coincidence. 🙂

    It’s too early for this theory to come into play.
    We’ll see the difference between the teams after Round 8/9…and judge if the other teams will be more fatigued than the Sharks. I suppose we shouldn’t forget that the Sharks have a “rest-friendly” schedule as another secret weapon.

  • Comment 22, posted at 09.03.09 10:36:04 by blackshark Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @Ice (you can leave your hat on!) (Comment 21) : ah but it does when you accuse me of ageism.

  • Comment 23, posted at 09.03.09 10:36:21 by try time Reply
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 19) : yeah i also noticed that.

  • Comment 24, posted at 09.03.09 10:37:01 by try time Reply
  • @Ice (you can leave your hat on!) (Comment 21) :

    The Sharks have the knack of getting the best from players who should have retired or be close to retirement. (Percy, Ackermann, AJ Venter)

    The Stormers have the knack of buying those players and not getting them to perform at all. (AJ Venter, Percy) 😉

  • Comment 25, posted at 09.03.09 10:37:36 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 25) : bobo 😆

  • Comment 26, posted at 09.03.09 10:44:05 by try time Reply
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 25) : luke.

  • Comment 27, posted at 09.03.09 10:44:28 by try time Reply
  • @try time (Comment 26) :

    I missed that one. 🙂

    @try time (Comment 27) :
    Luke has performed well for the WP though. (ON the field that is 😆 )

  • Comment 28, posted at 09.03.09 10:47:48 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 28) : yeah he has, i was just being biased. 😆

  • Comment 29, posted at 09.03.09 10:49:22 by try time Reply
  • @try time (Comment 23) :

    And How ecatly did it help?? 😈

    @KSA Shark © (Comment 28) :

    i hate to say – but I agree… 🙄

  • Comment 30, posted at 09.03.09 10:49:54 by Ice (you can leave your hat on!) Reply
  • @Ice (you can leave your hat on!) (Comment 30) : are you acting blonde. i compared the two because of their age and the position they play. and stefan is no where near the class of percy.

  • Comment 31, posted at 09.03.09 10:52:43 by try time Reply
  • @try time (Comment 31) : sorry keep forgetting the smileys. ❓ ❓ 😆

  • Comment 32, posted at 09.03.09 10:54:46 by try time Reply
  • @try time (Comment 31) :

    i am not acting… 😉

  • Comment 33, posted at 09.03.09 10:59:05 by Ice (you can leave your hat on!) Reply
  • @Ice (you can leave your hat on!) (Comment 33) : 😆 😆

  • Comment 34, posted at 09.03.09 11:03:51 by try time Reply
  • This ‘change’ started when Dick Muir took over the outfit… it’s not a ‘sudden’ thing attributed to Plumtree… Plummo too was mentored into his current position by DM…

  • Comment 35, posted at 10.03.09 02:35:57 by bryce_in_oz Reply

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