Use the bench, Plum!

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 1 Oct 2010 at 08:47
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Anton Bresler, named on the bench to face the Leopards this evening, will win only his third Sharks cap if he runs onto the field. Despite being part of the squad all season, the young lock forward has enjoyed a total of 19 minutes of on-field action, despite being named in the match 22 on three occasions.

Bresler is just one of a number of (particularly forward) replacements who have been riding the bench for large portions of the season without ever getting onto the field for any reasonable length of time and his case is perhaps the most extreme. Kyle Cooper and Michael Rhodes are the others to suffer from John Plumtree’s “79-minute syndrome”, which sees forward replacements underutilised during the course of the game. This has long been a trend with Plumtree, going back to his first season in charge in the Super 14.His thinking was very much based around a starting 15 and 7 other blokes that you have to have there, just in case.

Tactical substitutions were about as likely to happen as they were under Jake White when he coached the Boks. Remember how much fun Shimmie Shimange had spending season after season on the bench with no prospect of ever getting onto the field? Not only does this sort of thing actually harm the team (since you’re effectively pitting 15 men against 22), but it utterly destroys the morale of those deemed good enough to get a jersey, but not quite goo enough to get onto the park. Players tend to pick up on these subtle messages from the coaching staff and the message that comes through loud and clear here is that “the coach doesn’t trust me. He doesn’t back me to deliver”.

As the season draws towards its business end, player fatigue starts to become a real factor and it’s round about now that coaches find themselves having to call on those fringe players to fill gaps in the team as the regulars start to pick up injuries. Plum is really lucky to have Gerhard Mostert to call on this week, with Hargreaves forced to sit out, but putting all of one’s eggs in that injury-prone basket seems a little foolish and if Bresler, Rhodes, is to be called on to play lock in a crunch knock-out fixture, wouldn’t it be better if he could do so with a few good 30-minute runs under his belt, to get the confidence up?

Rugby is a team game – and a squad game – and you can’t expect to win the Currie Cup, let alone the Super 15, with only 15, or even 22 players. Adequate rotation and ensuring gametime to the fringe players, without impacting results, is a delicate balancing act for all coaches and one that I feel Plumtree, in particular, struggles with. The Sharks procurement team has done a great job in assembling a hugely talented pool of young talent, but the coach needs to be just a little more willing to back them in the Currie Cup. He needs to know, of course, that his bosses won’t come down on him if he does and it doesn’t work out completely to plan.

So come on, Plum – use the bench tonight. We’ve all seen how a youngster like Pat Lambie can flourish when given the opportunity to play. Let Bresler, Rhodes and Cooper have at least half an hour each tonight. They won’t let you down!


  • I agree with you, but I fear Plum is not listening

  • Comment 1, posted at 01.10.10 08:51:18 by war1 Reply
  • Couldnt agree more, even 5mins is not enough time for a sub to find his feet.

  • Comment 2, posted at 01.10.10 08:52:02 by Jarson Reply
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  • @war1 (Comment 1) : I know, dude… I know.

    The tiger doesn’t change his spot overnight.

  • Comment 3, posted at 01.10.10 08:53:18 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 3) : And even if Plum did take your advice this evening, wouldnt it be too late if you have to use a bench player in a knock out game, he would only have had a good 30 minutes against the Leopards under his belt

  • Comment 4, posted at 01.10.10 08:56:14 by war1 Reply
  • I reckon Plum reads Sharksworld before and during every game. He gets the most valuable input from these comments.

    Hello Plum.

  • Comment 5, posted at 01.10.10 08:56:48 by rugbypedia Reply

  • Better than nothing war. I reckon we need to give plum credit though. He is changin his ways, although more slowly than we’d like.

  • Comment 6, posted at 01.10.10 09:04:24 by robdylan Reply
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  • Completely in agreement Rob

  • Comment 7, posted at 01.10.10 09:05:50 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Very true that! You have to feel for the guys, as none of them have really disappointed, but have not had the decent run they deserve…

    I also feel that this can come back and bite Plum on the beeeehind! It might not happen in this CC, but sometime we are going to need our backup/bench/fringe players and they wont have the match sharpness required…

    I hate when they give a guy 20 seconds on the field, it serves no purpose whatsoever!

    Fact of the matter is, yes, we would like to win the CC, but this should be were we introduce the guys to the squad in preparation for the super 15

  • Comment 8, posted at 01.10.10 09:10:58 by AlienArmy Reply

  • Exactly why i suggested that McCleod, Lambie and Alberts should have played off the bench against the Lions. Rhodes, Kocket and especially Pretorius could have gained needed game time. And then Bresler and Mostert could have started this week, but alas……..

  • Comment 9, posted at 01.10.10 09:12:05 by JustPlainSHARK Reply

  • Morning Rob

    just read a article on suparugby, are you sure Jean Stemmet is only on loan to the Kwasse?

  • Comment 10, posted at 01.10.10 09:13:30 by morneL Reply

  • No. I never said he was. πŸ˜‰

    Stemmo was released by the sharks

  • Comment 11, posted at 01.10.10 09:18:15 by robdylan Reply
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  • @morneL (Comment 10) :

    Jean Stemmet has signed with Griquas. Only Downey and Lusaseni are on loan and will return at the end of the season..

  • Comment 12, posted at 01.10.10 09:19:57 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 11) : yeah, I was quite surprised by that. He looked like such a good prospect when we got him, played brilliantly in the varsity cup…and then we released him…did he not measure up?

    Lindique looks like a goody for the future!

  • Comment 13, posted at 01.10.10 09:21:14 by AlienArmy Reply

  • Okay, it is a shame, if you look at what we have available , in Dries and Swannie I don`t know what we are going to do come semi final time and they have to go up against Jean de Vil and J Fourie or even Meisiekind an co, I mean Waylon M and Doppies had a Field day against them!

  • Comment 14, posted at 01.10.10 09:22:32 by morneL Reply

  • @morneL (Comment 14) : That’s my feeling too, oom Stef stood his man (as we’d expect) against them in the super 14…but if you look at it on paper, 12 and 13 really is a worry very for me in the Shark tank…we’ll be in a better position next year, but what worries me is to play 2 very similar 12’s in the centers. Not very creative, and crash-ball specialists…we need that ball to get to Mvovo!

    They are both decent players…but they wont set the world alight…and that in our backline is a problem.

    As always, GO DIE HAAI!

  • Comment 15, posted at 01.10.10 09:29:53 by AlienArmy Reply

  • Should we, as the rugby public, also not change our mindset. Why do we consider players in a squad as “fringe”, “second choice” or “bench players” ? If you are in the squad you are as good as the person who is starting. I feel coaches need to put into practice what they preach and the squad as a whole takes responsibility for their performance.

  • Comment 16, posted at 01.10.10 10:04:51 by prgdad Reply

  • Just spoke to Stemmo. Looks like he’ll stay with Griquas next year

  • Comment 17, posted at 01.10.10 10:08:42 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 3) : A tiger has spots? πŸ˜†

  • Comment 18, posted at 01.10.10 10:20:48 by Greg Reply

  • @prgdad (Comment 16) : I agree with what you are saying, but I don’t think the mindset with us is that much of a problem. I merely call them that as it shorter than saying “player from 16 to 22” πŸ™‚

    Yes, all 22 need to contribute, but they should be given opportunity to do that…having 30 seconds on the field is not much of an opportunity.
    @robdylan (Comment 17) : Pity that, but good luck to him!

  • Comment 19, posted at 01.10.10 10:24:16 by AlienArmy Reply

  • @Greg (Comment 18) : Yip, Tiger does…one spot for each woman he slept with! πŸ™‚

  • Comment 20, posted at 01.10.10 10:26:06 by AlienArmy Reply

  • @AlienArmy (Comment 20) :

    ouch!! 😈 :mrgreen:

  • Comment 21, posted at 01.10.10 10:36:49 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 21) : hehe…poor fella probably looks like he played paint-ball. Go EU ryder cup team! πŸ™‚

  • Comment 22, posted at 01.10.10 10:42:23 by AlienArmy Reply

  • @Greg (Comment 18) : and Lions have stripes πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 23, posted at 01.10.10 10:57:22 by lostfish Reply
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  • @AlienArmy (Comment 22) :

    There’s an article in the Daily Mail about him checking out some Welsh babe. Katherine Jenkins I think it was while she was performing a song at the gala event.

    He wasnt the only player checking out her ass and yet the spotlight is on him of course!!

  • Comment 24, posted at 01.10.10 10:58:52 by wpw Reply
  • This would have been the ideal opportunity to start with Kyle and give Craig a rest. In my humble opinion Kyle is not far behind Bissie as a far as ball-carying is concerned and he’s also a bloody good scrummager.

  • Comment 25, posted at 01.10.10 11:04:28 by rhineshark Reply
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  • Hey guys, agree that these reserves should have been used much more during the season, but I don’t think it’s because Plum doesn’t trust them, in fact, when other players were unavailable, Plum had no problem bringing these guys straight into the starting line-up. Now that I said it, that sounds more like his hand was forced than him actually trusting the players, but I still think it has more to do with how plum feels about using the bench.

    Even when he’s had players like, Keegan or Botes, Skeate…Kockett and Pretorius should be mentioned here, players that could easily also start on the bench, he hasn’t used them from the bench a lot. I don’t think he’s very clued up when it comes to the impact these 7 players could have if used correctly. C’mon, this is the modern era. They’re not there just for back-up. Players can finish 80min comfortably. You don’t need to bench them.

    But subbing a player at the right time with the right replacement could be the difference between win and loose. We know the game could loosen up in the second half, so who do you use in this period. It gives you the opportunity to change things up. Has Plum ever thought of bringing Kockett on with a relatively good lead on the board and 30 min to go.

    Rory, slows the game down a bit, and maybe this is just what we need to ensure that things stay stable. We keep possession, Keep things structured and have the option of a stable kicker whenever the three points are on offer. A 7 point lead could quickly become a 10 or 13/16 point lead.

    Maybe this is not the right idea, but he should be thinking about these things and using his bench. He’s putting himself at a disadvantage not to.

    Burden is a great player, but Kyle cooper is a strong carrier of the ball. He will receive more possession from Kockett than McLeod and can make good forward meters for us.

    Alberts works damn hard in a match, and some games you could see the effect nearing the end of these games. Rhodes is a big strong fella and a stable player. He has a high work rate and will keep possession safe, while putting in strong hits and driving meters with his fresh legs.

    Again, Plum doesn’t have to agree with what I’m saying here, he’s the coach, but to be an even more effective coach he needs to use everything at his exposure.

    And like Rob said, if you don’t play these guys at all, it has so many negative effects. On player morale and the risk you then take when you are forced to start with a player who hasn’t had a chance to play with the team.

    Having not used these players much during the season, the best thing Plum could have done tonight, was to give some of these players a starting spot. The best thing now that he hasn’t even done that, would be to give them all 40 to 30min. That’s the best thing in this situation, but it won’t change much for the next few games. Most of these guys, will drop out of the 22 completely when the Boks comes back.

  • Comment 26, posted at 01.10.10 11:11:40 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 26) : Well said Letgo….you should have done an article and scored yourself 100 points.

  • Comment 27, posted at 01.10.10 11:17:18 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 27) : I didn’t expect that to come out so long. I had more to say about the subject than I thought I did. You think I should still do it? 😎

    Someone can delete my comment.?

  • Comment 28, posted at 01.10.10 11:20:07 by Letgo Reply
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  • @lostfish (Comment 23) : I thought WP had stripes? Now I am really confused πŸ˜†

  • Comment 29, posted at 01.10.10 11:23:56 by Greg Reply

  • interesting read about the Mapoe saga –

  • Comment 30, posted at 01.10.10 12:02:38 by AlienArmy Reply

  • Come OOOOn Splinterboud Bresler! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 31, posted at 01.10.10 12:57:07 by Original Pierre Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 26) : Hey, that`s what I said two weeks ago!

    Whatever happened to copyright protection? 😈

  • Comment 32, posted at 01.10.10 12:58:57 by Original Pierre Reply
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  • @AlienArmy (Comment 30) :

    There have been lots of lies and deceptions with this whole Mapoe issue. Now, he lies too:

    “John Plumtree’s spoken to me virtually every morning and told me to vasbyt, they want me on the field.”

    He’s telling pork pies, Plumtree is a Kiwi and doesn’t speak Afrikaans!

  • Comment 33, posted at 01.10.10 13:04:30 by Baldrick Reply

  • @Baldrick (Comment 33) : haha…I reckon ‘vasbyt’ is just a bit more South african than “hang’in there mate”… πŸ™‚ dont think plum used the word ‘vasbyt’…

  • Comment 34, posted at 01.10.10 13:08:09 by AlienArmy Reply

  • @AlienArmy (Comment 30) : HEY! That’s just an (unauthorised) reprint of the article I wrote a few days ago! πŸ™‚

  • Comment 35, posted at 01.10.10 13:14:57 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 35) : very well written and very informative πŸ™‚ hehe

  • Comment 36, posted at 01.10.10 13:27:41 by AlienArmy Reply

  • @AlienArmy (Comment 36) : gee… thanks πŸ™‚ what’s about prophets and their own lands?

  • Comment 37, posted at 01.10.10 13:31:56 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 37) : The boertjie in me says…what? πŸ˜† don’t know that saying…

  • Comment 38, posted at 01.10.10 13:37:42 by AlienArmy Reply

  • Correct Jarson, nobody can produce in 2 or 5 minutes on the field. and I can assure you, not one of the subs disappointed in the past (the little time they had). And the train just as hard as the main manne. Hope they all get decent time 2nite. Hope Plum wakes up a bit and USE them.

  • Comment 39, posted at 01.10.10 13:50:41 by Marietjie Reply

  • @AlienArmy (Comment 34) : “Vasbyt” is very likely a word Plum would use. He’s been exposed to Saffer rugby culture for a while now. Don’t forget that he played in the same team that won the 1996 Currie Cup and probably learned the word from Jouba.

    After “braai” and all the swearwords, of course.

  • Comment 40, posted at 01.10.10 14:25:11 by rhineshark Reply
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  • @rhineshark (Comment 40) : Yeah, probably hey…after all the years in SA it’s a surprise that he still has any bit of NZ accent left

  • Comment 41, posted at 01.10.10 14:33:03 by AlienArmy Reply

  • Agree Rob use the bench it will be great to c how the young ones play together and no they won’t let their supporters down at all :mrgreen:

  • Comment 42, posted at 01.10.10 14:35:37 by chaz Reply

  • @AlienArmy (Comment 20) : :mrgreen:

  • Comment 43, posted at 01.10.10 14:38:22 by chaz Reply

  • @Letgo (Comment 28) : :mrgreen: πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 44, posted at 01.10.10 14:39:57 by chaz Reply

  • @rugbypedia (Comment 5) : πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

  • Comment 45, posted at 01.10.10 15:02:34 by bergshark Reply

  • @Letgo (Comment 26) :” PLAYERS CAN FINISH 80 MINUTES COMFORTABLY”.. but they shouldn`t ,should they? they should pace them to give their all in that 80 (plus)minutes..

  • Comment 46, posted at 01.10.10 15:05:46 by bergshark Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 17) : πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ thought straueli told him he will be in the mix for next year`s super15(sharksbite program).. πŸ™ πŸ™ stemmet has flair ..should have put him in with the big boys (ie,bissie,beast,adi,jp,stef,kanko,etc)and see what he can do… just left shaking my head πŸ™ πŸ™

  • Comment 47, posted at 01.10.10 15:11:23 by bergshark Reply

  • @morneL (Comment 14) : hope plum and co take note!!

  • Comment 48, posted at 01.10.10 15:13:42 by bergshark Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 11) : πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™

  • Comment 49, posted at 01.10.10 15:14:55 by bergshark Reply

  • @bergshark (Comment 47) : I don’t know how Stroolsie could have told Stemmet that he’d be in the mix when we have Adi, Strauss, Swannie and Stefan as centres, have Lambie who can play centre and just bought Bosman and JLP, who can also play centre.

    Sure, Stemmet along with Jenner and a few other youngsters will be needed in the near future, but next year the midfield will be pretty well covered.

  • Comment 50, posted at 01.10.10 16:06:32 by rhineshark Reply
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  • @bergshark (Comment 47) : Strooli always backed Jean. The problem wasn’t with him

  • Comment 51, posted at 01.10.10 16:13:27 by robdylan Reply
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