Richard Ferguson

Smart selections with tournaments

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 7 Mar 2011 at 07:30
Tagged with : , , , , ,

The Sharks’ victory against the Western Force this weekend did come at the cost of JP Pietersen, and potentially Odwa Ndungane as well. The coach will be having a few restless nights over the coming week as he ponders the selection against the Melbourne Rebels this coming Friday.

The Rebels have had a rocky start to their inaugural Super Rugby season, starting with a walloping at the hands of the Waratahs at home, followed by a remarkable win against a somewhat despondent Brumbies outfits, only to come crashing down to earth again against the Chiefs this weekend.

So what do we as Sharks supporters make of this game? It is one of those games where you have nothing to gain but a lot to lose. We can beat them five tries to nothing, but nothing good will really come of that. Yet there is the risk that we take them too lightly and throw away valuable log points in the race for semi final positions.

The Sharks are in an unfortunate situation in having played on a Saturday and picking up a few bumps, and only having a six day recovery week as we are playing again on Friday. A few players that picked up knocks could come up short in being fully fit to face the Rebels.

The players that picked up knocks on Saturday include obviously Odwa Ndungane and Willem Alberts, but a few others looked wobbly as well, like Jacques Botes who was clutching his ribs, and Louis Ludik who took a bash as well. So, what do we do?

I would like to think that coach John Plumtree will think about resting a few of his key players who might not be 100% fit. A player like Willem Alberts can easily sit on the bench this weekend, and should things go awry, he can always make his usual impact. With a few players rotating to the bench, a decision can be made during the match whether it is necessary to risk a player in the game or not.

If I were in Plumtree’s shoes, I would bench Alberts for Kankowski, I would drop Odwa out the match 22 completely so that he can fully recuperate, drop one of the locks that seem tired to the bench for Bresler to get a start, and maybe even give Smit a run so that he can get back to his best.


  • i wouldn’t want to mess my defensive combinations too much. but agree. give bismarck a rest, bring alberts (if botes is fit) on as an impact player. give jlp a chance at 1st centre and give bosman a break.

  • Comment 1, posted at 07.03.11 07:51:41 by try time Reply
  • @Rich: Totally agree. We can rotate all these guys from the bench. And if we are 20/30 points up with 20minutes to play, don’t risk them. Play the full 80min with the guys on the park. Will be valuable game time for them as well.

  • Comment 2, posted at 07.03.11 07:53:41 by SharksRTB Reply
  • Maybe we should give Ludick a rest as well and shift Lambie back to Fullback so he’s out of the high traffic area of FH. I’d have said rest Lambie completely but our injuries have sort of destroyed any hope of that. JLP can then get a start at FH.

    I’d have said shift Oupa to fullback again and bring Adi on at outside centre but Oupa and Bosman need to work on their combination and our injuries to our wings means that Adi should start at wing.

    Another idea would be to give Alberts a rest and shift Sykes to flank in his place. He has played in the position before and bring Bresler on for a game.

  • Comment 3, posted at 07.03.11 08:09:51 by Butchie34 Reply
  • I might even play Sykes at flank… (gosh… did I really just say that?)

  • Comment 4, posted at 07.03.11 08:10:37 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 4) : Good grief, I think we both just did.

  • Comment 5, posted at 07.03.11 08:14:27 by Butchie34 Reply
  • We must both be losing it 🙂

  • Comment 6, posted at 07.03.11 08:39:21 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 4) : @Butchie34 (Comment 3) : not a bad idea, but then you put pressure on the lock depth if you overplay the locks. burden at loosie if you want to give alberts and botes a break.

  • Comment 7, posted at 07.03.11 08:39:39 by try time Reply

  • @try time (Comment 7) : I think our lock depth is fine. Sykes plays at flank but when they get back he can get a few games off and we can have Gerhard Mostert start a few for us as well.

  • Comment 8, posted at 07.03.11 08:46:56 by Butchie34 Reply
  • Try time, I don’t think it would work. You lose too much bulk and upset the balance if you replace 120kg alberts with 100kg burden. Craig has also struggled to adapt to flank in the past. With no eugene, it also means you’ll need to bring chadwick in to cover prop

  • Comment 9, posted at 07.03.11 08:46:56 by robdylan Reply
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  • @try time (Comment 7) : I think playing Burden at loosie is asking the guy a little bit too much versatility. He was a centre/wing and we converted him to hooker and now to ask him to be able to play at flank as well.

    Jack of all trades, master of none. He’s excelling at hooker and he should stay there I think.

  • Comment 10, posted at 07.03.11 08:48:38 by Butchie34 Reply
  • Astute analysis Rich, only problem is that resting Bismark AND Willem at the same time removes some mobility and power that Smit and a Keegan, Botes, Kanko loose trio cannot replace. Tough call.

  • Comment 11, posted at 07.03.11 09:27:27 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • I think this competition will prove that teams should change only when they need to. If players have niggling injuries etc then they shouldnt play and be replaced. There is no need for wide scale changes just for the sake of it. Do not underestimate any team in this competition or else you will lose-just ask the Brumbies! The number of injuries means our squad depth will be tested- dont test it more by making changes for the sake of it.

  • Comment 12, posted at 07.03.11 09:45:43 by SheldonK Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 9) : i know, but we can’t risk putting pressure on the lock depth by using them as loosies. we had a little scare at the beginning of the season when sykes and hargreaves were injured. i just used burden as a possibility. he definitely has the ball carrying skills.

  • Comment 13, posted at 07.03.11 10:11:07 by try time Reply

  • I’d say whatever we do, we can’t afford to underestimate the Rebels on their home ground. For months now everyone has assumed we will get 5-pts from this game. Being fortunate enough to play the Rebels away has been likened to having an Italian club in your Heineken Cup group iow a dream come true. We just have to make sure this dream doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

  • Comment 14, posted at 07.03.11 10:14:47 by beet Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • When is Deysel joining the team.

  • Comment 15, posted at 07.03.11 12:38:46 by Honey Badger Reply

    Honey Badger
  • @Honey Badger (Comment 15) : probably next week. Definitely not this week.

  • Comment 16, posted at 07.03.11 12:52:05 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 16) : To the rescue,thanks rob

  • Comment 17, posted at 07.03.11 14:44:50 by Honey Badger Reply

    Honey Badger
  • @robdylan (Comment 16) : will they rush him out there or do you think they will give him a few sharks xv games first? unless there is an injury on tour, it is probably wiser to let him find his form playing vc until the team gets back.

  • Comment 18, posted at 07.03.11 15:00:03 by try time Reply

  • @try time (Comment 18) : that would be my call, but I believe he WILL join the tour. That’s why they only took 25 initially

  • Comment 19, posted at 07.03.11 15:27:56 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 19) : i think you are right, i remember plumtree saying something about skeate and deysel maybe joining the tour. with skeate back we could look at sykes at loosie. it is a good position to be in having big players on the brink of return just as the tournament is starting to take its toll on the players.

  • Comment 20, posted at 07.03.11 15:39:22 by try time Reply

  • @try time (Comment 20) : not sure what’s up with Skeate, though… Plum appears to have put him on a conditioning program

  • Comment 21, posted at 07.03.11 16:03:07 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 21) :

    Skeate is on a conditioning programme to build leg strength..

  • Comment 22, posted at 07.03.11 16:48:01 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 22) : So no idea when he will be match fit?

  • Comment 23, posted at 07.03.11 17:19:30 by SharonvanWyk Reply
  • @Butchie34 (Comment 3) : I most definitely wouldn’t move SuperPat anywhere. He is really growing into the FH position now, and is proving a good general to his troops. To move him now would be counterproductive IMO. Rather rest him completely. But not yet. Not yet.

  • Comment 24, posted at 07.03.11 17:22:50 by SharonvanWyk Reply
  • @SharonvanWyk (Comment 24) : Hi Sharon

    I’m also loath to move him, but one area where we do have trouble is at fullback. Louis Ludik is making the position his own but he is the only real fullback in the squad and at some point in the campaign he might pick up an injury and he will definitely need to be rested at some stage.

    Both Lambie and Oupa can cover fullback but neither have played in the position in a while and to be honest, after last year’s S14 I have more faith in Lambie at the back.

    The best would be to have Odwa cover fullback because he did pretty well there in the warmup against the Stormers, but I’m not too sure if he will be able to play on Friday.

    The only reason why I’m advocating we ‘rest’ Lambie though is a sneaky suspicion that the Rebels might try to come out and play as dirty as the Force on Friday and the last thing we want is our talismanic FH being injured by some Aussie who took the message that they need to front up to the Sharks’ physicality to the point they play thugby and not rugby.

  • Comment 25, posted at 08.03.11 08:57:29 by Butchie34 Reply
  • If the sharks arrive for the game vs rebels and execute properly,they should win this game.
    But if the sharks rock up and expect it to happen for them,then were in for a long and frustrating friday morning.
    That said,I’d pick my best team.

  • Comment 26, posted at 08.03.11 09:32:54 by bergshark Reply

  • @bergshark (Comment 26) : Too true, just because they’re the new boys won’t mean they’re the easy beats.

    The question is when to rest our key players though, because at some point they’re going to have to rest. Should we rest them against teams which aren’t that strong or do we rest them against say the Crusaders? A tough prospect.

  • Comment 27, posted at 08.03.11 10:03:12 by Butchie34 Reply
  • @Butchie34 (Comment 27) : I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… resting players against the Crusaders sends the wrong message entirely. It shows that you don’t feel you can beat them and as such you don’t consider yourselves real tournament title contenders.

    I would be bitterly disappointed if the Sharks ever fielded a weakened team against a strong opponent.

  • Comment 28, posted at 08.03.11 10:05:26 by robdylan Reply
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  • @SharonvanWyk (Comment 23) : I think the fact that Plum could have selected either Mostert or Skeate for the tour, but opted to take Bresler instead, speaks volumes about his confidence in the young man.

  • Comment 29, posted at 08.03.11 10:06:29 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 28) : No, I agree. It’s like you’re admitting that you wouldn’t be able to beat them with your first string, so you’re resting your frontline instead.

    I suppose the idea of resting players against the Crusaders can be taken the same way for weaker teams because you wave the red flag in front of their face and imply your second string can beat them and you might have egg on your face at the end of the day.

    That’s why you have to look at your season and decide when you are going to rest your players. Definitely not all at once, but if you rest one or two for a game along the way, you’re still left with a strong lineup for the game.

  • Comment 30, posted at 08.03.11 12:16:45 by Butchie34 Reply
  • @Butchie34 (Comment 30) : Hey Butchie, I hear what you are saying, but do you honestly still have more faith in Pat in the No 15 jersey than where he currently is? That’s interesting, even though I don’t agree. I know the history, and all, but actually think that Ludik is doing a really great job at the moment, and wonder who you would rather put in the No 10 shirt?
    With regards to resting (something I am doing this week – heaven!) – at some point players are going to have to be rested this season, for sure, especially closer to TriNations and RWC time when the Bok management and selectors will start to throw in their thruppence-worth.
    And I hear your concerns re Pat and our other “star” players and potential Boks with regards to “thugby” and acknowledge that with every passing week the target on Pat’s back especially gets considerably bigger.
    However, that target wouldn’t get smaller if his shirt number was changed from 10 to 15 – it would just make the job of bringing him down “professionally” slightly harder.
    But as we have seen with Sidey last weekend, there are some players who really don’t care if they get nailed or not, as long as their “mission” is accomplished.
    Pat’s come of age, in my book at least, and he’s proved he can take care of himself – he knows that he’ll become the potential punching bag of every ne’er do well gumby with half a brain cell looking for a spot of legendary infamy on You Tube.
    It seems to me that the message Pat’s sending out with his tackling performances these last few weeks is that he is fearless and will happily nail the thugger buggers first and ask questions later…

  • Comment 31, posted at 08.03.11 13:24:10 by SharonvanWyk Reply
  • @SharonvanWyk (Comment 31) : Hey Sharon

    Patrick Lambie is THE number 10 in SA and should be there at the WC instead of Steyn. I’m only trying to think of how best to rest and rotate players.

    Ludick is really making the jersey his own and it’s good to see. But what worries me is his backup. At FH, we have JLP (and Bosman) if pushed. But at fullback, the cover is really thin. Maybe it’s also time to give JPP (when he recovers from his injury) some time again in the 15 jersey. As backup of course.

  • Comment 32, posted at 08.03.11 14:36:33 by Butchie34 Reply
  • @Butchie34 (Comment 32) : It’s a tough call. I am glad I’m not a coach.

  • Comment 33, posted at 08.03.11 15:05:07 by SharonvanWyk Reply

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