Flying under the radar

Written by Warren Smith (war1)

Posted in :Lions, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 7 Mar 2011 at 13:01
Tagged with : , , , , ,

Rugby certainly is a strange game. The Super rugby tournament has certainly thrown up some interesting results that went against the form book and many predictions were proved to be wrong, which is evidenced by the remarkable attrition rate on last man standing.

Super rugby really can be unpredictable tournament, simply because the teams are so evenly matched. In any given game one of the so-called bigger teams could lose to one of the smaller ones if they are even a fraction off of their game.

Pre-season news in South Africa was almost exclusively dominated by the Lions. They have been so consistently referred to as the resurgent Lions that I was beginning to think that a mysterious company called resurgent had taken over as title sponsor of the Joburg side. Much has also been made of the Lions record losing streak. The result of the hype around the Joburg men was that the pressure on the players increased week after week. After two narrow defeats against last year’s finalists the match against the Blues was seen as a definite win for the home side. It seems that after every loss the Lions players are put under more pressure by their increasingly demanding fans. The hype and epxectations may have placed a bit too much pressure on the Joburg side and possibly made it more difficult for the team to win rather than creating the air of positivity which would have been the intention of said hype.

Looking at the pre-season match between the Sharks and Lions, John Plumtree’s team looked to have benefited more from that game at this stage of the season than John Mitchell’s team have. After winning the Currie Cup, a pre-season wake-up call was probably exactly what the doctor ordered and although the Lions gained confidence from the match, the pressure also increased on them. A game in Bloemfontein is never easy but John Mitchell’s main task this week will probably be to relieve a bit of pressure from his players.

The Sharks now sit on top of the South African conference and also of the overall log, albeit only on points difference. The hype machine has probably not been kicked into full gear because of the relatively subdued performances at home despite comprehensively beating both the Cheetahs and Blues in the Durban rain and humidity respectively. This Sharks team seems to have grown up and is now learning to dig deep and do what is necessary to win in difficult circumstances. The bonus point win in Perth will probably be written off since it was against fourteen men. However, on the evidence I have seen, this is a special Sharks team. A blend of youth and experience, depth in key positions and a team spirit which saw a wonderful Currie Cup win at the end of last year.

But Sharks fans would do well to remember 2009. There are many similarities, from winning the Currie Cup the year before to the good start in Super rugby. We all know what happened after that, there were injuries but a major contributing factor was the hype around the Sharks which resulted in a few lacklustre performances particularly against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein where it looked like the Sharks simply did not switch on for the game. The good news is that the leadership of the Sharks have a reference point when reminding the players not to get complacent. The season from here on is as much of a mental challenge as a physical one and I trust that Plum, the rest of the management team and the leaders amongst the playing staff will do their best to keep the players feet on the ground and focused on the task at hand.


  • awesome article, war… the Sharks have, with their unbeaten start, inadvertently heaped pressure on themselves and the spotlight is now going to follow them around.

    Using that as a positive motivating force, rather than a source of undue pressure, is going to be key. I think the issue in 2009 started when certain scribes started writing stuff like “let’s just give the Sharks the trophy now and be done with it” after 5 weeks…

  • Comment 1, posted at 07.03.11 13:25:20 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 1) : Even Keo can’t stop praising the Sharks πŸ™„

  • Comment 2, posted at 07.03.11 13:43:00 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • @robdylan (Comment 1) : It’s something that champion teams need to learn, the Bulls and Crusaders have had it over the years. I would hope that in the couple of years since 09 the Sharks would have learnt a bit of that as well.

  • Comment 3, posted at 07.03.11 14:01:10 by war1 Reply
  • @Pokkel (Comment 2) : yes – I know. Kinda made me feel a little nauseous, that article!

  • Comment 4, posted at 07.03.11 14:05:01 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @Pokkel (Comment 2) : We just need to hold on for one convincing Stormers or Bulls win and he’ll be off our backs πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 5, posted at 07.03.11 14:18:28 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • To be fair, playing the best of the South African sides is not all that hard at the moment, is it?

  • Comment 6, posted at 07.03.11 14:40:41 by war1 Reply
  • i was actually thinking on saturday night, after watching the bulls, that the sharks are unlucky they have to play the bulls twice in the last half of the tournament, when the bulls have fixed their problems. but we all know the sharks can do the job. the semi final is proof of that.

  • Comment 7, posted at 07.03.11 14:44:41 by try time Reply

  • @war1 (Comment 6) : maybe we have the weakest conference.

  • Comment 8, posted at 07.03.11 14:47:07 by Honey Badger Reply

    Honey Badger
  • Not the Aussies

  • Comment 9, posted at 07.03.11 14:47:36 by Honey Badger Reply

    Honey Badger
  • Not the Aussies.

  • Comment 10, posted at 07.03.11 14:47:57 by Honey Badger Reply

    Honey Badger
  • My bad.

  • Comment 11, posted at 07.03.11 14:48:40 by Honey Badger Reply

    Honey Badger
  • @Honey Badger (Comment 8) : It may be like that now, but it’s only 3 games in, the Stormers and Bulls remain quality teams.

  • Comment 12, posted at 07.03.11 14:54:45 by war1 Reply
  • @war1 (Comment 12) : also the lions and cheetahs are known to roll over for the overseas teams and then shoot down the south african teams chances.

  • Comment 13, posted at 07.03.11 15:02:04 by try time Reply

  • @try time (Comment 13) : Yeah, how selfish of them πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 14, posted at 07.03.11 15:04:11 by war1 Reply
  • @Pokkel (Comment 2) : u liar! Show me a link to this article lmfao! πŸ˜€

  • Comment 15, posted at 07.03.11 15:07:11 by Poisy Reply
  • @Poisy (Comment 15) : Seriaaaas! It’s sickening.

  • Comment 16, posted at 07.03.11 15:42:24 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • @robdylan (Comment 1) : Agree completely. The media has a lot to answer for!!! (And I should know!) There are certain members of it who like nothing better than to build a team up only to take great delight in shooting it down in flames. There are others, who shall remain nameless, who wouldn’t know a good team if it bit them in the backside.
    If the Sharks can channel all of the energy, negative and positive, pressurised and otherwise, into a positive approach to every game, as they seem to be doing, then I have every hope that 2011 will turn into a bumper year for them.
    This season is going to be all about mindsets, because it is going to require minds to overcome matter when bodies are tired, bruised, and pushed to the limit. And this is the most significant change, for me, in the Sharks approach this season. They seem mentally much stronger and ready for the onslaught. And that may just give them the edge when the competition starts lagging.

  • Comment 17, posted at 07.03.11 17:07:38 by SharonvanWyk Reply
  • Nice article War1. SA teams (in all sport) seem to struggle with complacency.

  • Comment 18, posted at 07.03.11 18:50:37 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • great stuff War1

    can we send some support to the lockers for a game or 2 i think when they go to the lockers and see some notes from the supporters in SA it will just go good and no harm

    i think this year the sharks are wide awak i don’t think they will want to go down that road at all this year so far so good

  • Comment 19, posted at 07.03.11 20:38:52 by chaz Reply

  • Nice War

  • Comment 20, posted at 08.03.11 07:46:40 by SharksRTB Reply


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