Staking a claim

Written by Warren Smith (war1)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Vodacom Cup on 15 Mar 2011 at 20:38
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The Vodacom cup has almost always been hailed as a competition in which the younger players will come through and make a push for inclusion in the Currie Cup later in the season and possibly even a place in the Super rugby squad of their union.

Despite the stated aim of developing young players, the Vodacom cup squads of the Super rugby franchises have generally been viewed as purely second string with guys who have not cracked the nod for the Super Rugby squad to keep match fit for if and when an opportunity arises to join the main squad. These players know they are second string and are essentially waiting for the guys ahead of them in the pecking order to get injured or suffer a loss of form. On top of that, the coaches of these sides also know they are a phone call away from losing their best players and as such it is difficult to keep squad continuity in what is a long and demanding competition in its own right. To make it even more difficult for the bigger unions, there is also the matter of the smaller unions who have full strength teams and are that much more difficult to beat and are itching for a prize scalp of a bigger union. Older fringe players may  feel a bit hard done by if they had to play in the Vodacom cup instead of Super Rugby and that would subconciously put a negative vibe into the camp. Consequently the bigger unions, who have academies and dominate age group provincial rugby generally do not perform to their potential in the Vodacom cup.

The Sharks XV have a bit more of a youthful look to them this year with fringe players from last year’s main Sharks squad such as Pat Cilliers, Michael Rhodes, Rory Kockott, Monty Dumond and Waylon Murray having moved on to other unions. This might turn out to be a very good thing as these guys have a carrot of Currie Cup selection later in the year dangling in front of them if they perform well in the Vodacom Cup. This is a World Cup year and the Sharks should provide a decent amount of players to the squad who will do duty in New Zealand. Rather than see this as a negative for Sharks rugby, I would like to point out that there are now more opportunities for the great talent the Sharks acadamy.

Younger players straight out of age group rugby are more likely to see the Vodacom Cup as a fantastic opportunity to test themselves at a level which is higher than what they have been playing at. Add into the mix the Sharks’ coaching staff’s new belief in younger players which has seen the likes of Pat Lambie and Lwazi Mvovo gain Springbok caps and Anton Bresler estabilish himself in the matchday 22 and there should be plenty for the Sharks XV squad to be playing for. The coaching staff has also shown that the emergence of the aforementioned three players is no fluke by deciding against contracting Jacques Engelbrecht and instead using Lambert Groenewald and Marcell Coetzee as loose forwards in the Super rugby squad. Mark Richards is another case of a player who has been given a chance to join the squad.

So for our young Sharks XV squad there is certainly plenty to play for. The Vodacom Cup itself is a wonderful incentive for them but there is also the chance to stake a claim for a place in a team which will defend the Currie Cup this year and could even end up launching a few more Springbok careers too. Now is the team for this talented team to pull together and keep up the performances which have seen them top their log as well as staking a claim for a place in the Sharks team for the near future.


  • I like your reasoning here, war… and agree 100%

  • Comment 1, posted at 15.03.11 20:44:17 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 1) : I don’t want to knock them too much here but a classic example of the opposite is the Lions, my theory on why they have had an indifferent start to the Vodacom Cup is perhaps the subconscious negativity of a seasoned pro missing out on Super Rugby squad that he really thought he deserved to be in.

  • Comment 2, posted at 15.03.11 20:49:10 by war1 Reply
  • @war1 (Comment 2) : can’t disagree, cos we’ve seen that attitude in the Wildebeest before. I call it “Kees Lensing syndrome”

  • Comment 3, posted at 15.03.11 21:06:05 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Good article that. Spot on.

  • Comment 4, posted at 15.03.11 21:31:06 by Speed7 Reply

  • Read in Beeld today, that Marius Joubert and Ronnie Cooke might join the Sharks.

  • Comment 5, posted at 16.03.11 06:47:49 by Jarson (AddicteD) Reply
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  • Ronnie Cooke. Jeez that boy could play before he left. Wonder if he’s still playing at a good level. Joubert will put your teams age average up a few years.

  • Comment 6, posted at 16.03.11 06:57:51 by Speed7 Reply

  • @Speed7 (Comment 6) : Apparently Cooke is one of the stand out guys in the Top 14 at this stage.

  • Comment 7, posted at 16.03.11 07:09:33 by Jarson (AddicteD) Reply
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  • de kock could stand in for ludik. the guy looks solid. also reinhard should be starting as he is a lot quicker and less selfish than cronje. well thats from the limited vc i have seen.

  • Comment 8, posted at 16.03.11 07:18:50 by try time Reply

  • @Jarson: will be super excited if ronnie cooke joins the sharks 🙂 that guy is bok quality.

  • Comment 9, posted at 16.03.11 07:43:57 by bergshark Reply

  • I know straeuli was after him in 2005 already,but cooke opted to stay in kimberley and play superrugby for the cheetahs.
    Hope this time we can get his signature on a sharks contract.

  • Comment 10, posted at 16.03.11 07:47:52 by bergshark Reply

  • Marius joubert will be an interesting signing.suppose for only 6 months?or will it be longer?
    Cooke and joubert..will be good if it happens.
    Should not negatively influence players like lindeque and jordaan.both can have a season of age group rugby,perhaps bench time and a couple of mins in this year’s cc.

  • Comment 11, posted at 16.03.11 07:52:31 by bergshark Reply

  • Saw cooke playing a game on the rite wing for brive this season.

  • Comment 12, posted at 16.03.11 07:53:41 by bergshark Reply

  • How bout that vosloo in the brive team?flanker.

  • Comment 13, posted at 16.03.11 07:54:40 by bergshark Reply

  • definitely don’t want to see joubert in a sharks jersey unless as a backline coach.

  • Comment 14, posted at 16.03.11 08:08:14 by try time Reply

  • @war1 (Comment 2) :

    Spot on War.. Really good read. Have to agree with you.

    They have to see at a massive opportunity.

  • Comment 15, posted at 16.03.11 08:31:19 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson

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