Plumtree plays it safe

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 6 May 2011 at 06:58
Tagged with : , , , ,

The Sharks are certainly feeling the effects of the total onslaught they faced from the Stormers last week, if the team selection for this week’s outing against the Brumbies is anything to go by. While the run-on fifteen shows a number of changes to the unit that went to Cape Town, one feels that the coaching staff have been more concerned with finding a fit pack of forwards than with fixing a backline combination that looked most out of sorts at Newlands.

Their hands have been tied, to an extent and we must be fair about that. John Smit injured his calf in Cape Town and was ruled out as a result – once that occurred, there was never any chance that Stefan Terblanche could be dropped or rested for this game, since there is nobody else in the squad with the necessary experience to captain at this level. This is an issue, of course, that we’ve known about for some time and have been harping on about. It can’t be fixed in a week, though and looking at the situation pragmatically, it would be very foolish indeed to go into this game without the veteran centre at the helm. The decision to bring Alistair Hargreaves in for Ross Skeate also makes sense. Skeate was largely ineffective against the Stormers and the fact that he’s been released to bolster the Sharks XV in their semi-final is a positive mood and good for Sharks rugby as a whole. Injury has again complicated matters somewhat, with Gerhard Mostert forced out this week due to a shoulder niggle, but Anton Bresler is a young man who has never yet let the side down and who I am sure will relish another opportunity to stake a claim in this match.

The loose-forward reshuffle is somewhat baffling – we’re lead to believe that Ryan Kankowski has been ruled out for an indeterminate period as a result of a knock to the cheek that he took in training earlier in the week. With Jacques Botes still not fit after injuring an ankle against the Hurricanes, back-row options were a little thin on the ground, but fortunately, in Marcell Coetzee, the Sharks have a youngster who is in great nick and seems completely ready to make the step up to Super Ruby, despite his youth. We can discuss the permutations ad infinitum – many feel that Keegan Daniel should have been moved to the back with Willem Alberts and Jean Deysel operating in tandem at flank – but the reality is that the Sharks loose forwards tend swap roles regularly during the course of the game anyway, making the point somewhat less relevant.

All-in-all, then, about the best pack that the Sharks could have fielded, given the injury situation. The front row looks insanely strong, with Jannie du Plessis sure to be on fire in his 50th Super Rugby appearance and the addition of Craig Burden to the bench sure to add a fair bit of pace and impact later in the game too.

It’s at the back, though, where the changes that should have come, arguably haven’t. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not the sort of person who would advocate sweeping changes just for the sake of it, because I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally wrong with the current combination. That said, it’s a real pity that injuries up front have necessitated a more conservative selection strategy among the backs this week, because – in the interests of keeping everyone on their toes – it makes sense to rotate players when certain individuals show a dip in form, which may well simply be down to fatigue. I would have given serious thought to starting Conrad Hoffmann in this game, but with a new number 8 as well, I can see that it would be a risky move to not at least have some continuity down that 8-9-10 axis. While I’m also not part of the “blame it all on Bosman” brigade, I do feel there would be value in giving someone else a run at inside centre (probably Jacques-Louis Potgieter) just to see how things go. Likewise, in the number 13 jersey, Adi Jacobs is crying out for a starting opportunity and again, I must emphasise that were it not for the Smit injury, this would appear to be the perfect game in which to make that switch.

A starting position for Lwazi Mvovo needs to be manufactured as well, although I will admit to being at a loss as to how exactly that should be achieved.

To summarise, though, I feel the coaches have opted to play it very safe with a conservative team selection this week, particularly amongst the backs. While that makes a fair amount of sense looking at the situation pragmatically, one does feel that there’s a bigger picture that’s not being addressed here and which will need to be looked at at some point. Injuries are inevitable in rugby and we’re certainly very fortunate that the depth amongst the forwards is up to scratch – kudos must go to the management for that, of course. I am also very pleased with the decision to back youngsters like Bresler and Coetzee who have come up through the system and only hope that we can start to see some exciting young backline players afforded similar opportunities in the near future.


  • I just hope currie cup is time to breed a new captain..I wonder if a player like jlp would do the job well???

  • Comment 1, posted at 06.05.11 07:26:34 by shaniboi Reply
  • @shaniboi (Comment 1) : 😐

  • Comment 2, posted at 06.05.11 07:43:41 by SharksRTB Reply
  • If I were to be a selector, and assuming that I could not fiddle with the selection of John Smit and Stefan Terblanche as captains, this is how I would finish off the season:

    1) I’d move Stefan to 15, Ludick to the bench, and hand Adi a starting berth. Furthermore, I’d appoint Keegan Daniel and Allistair Hargreaves vice-captains (we already have two captains), to ensure that I could take Stefan off at the 30 minute mark and give Ludick enough game time. This will also give the vice-captains some much needed exposure.

    2) I’d persist with Bosman at inside centre, but bring first JLP, and then Swannie (once Vodacom Cup has run it’s course) onto the bench for successive runs of about 3 games each, and attempt to ensure they each get at least 30 minutes per game on Lambie’s outside.

    3) Once John Smit has returned from injury, I’d give him at least another 2 – 3 game run in the starting berth. In games with John Smit starting, I’d play Jacques Botes at 6 and Deysel at 7 to strengthen our fetching game. Similarly, in those games I’d play Stef off the bench.

    4) My preferred locks would be Hargreaves, Mostert and Sykes, who would be rotated based on requirements per game (e.g grunt vs. athleticism).

    Unfortunately now I have to set off for some meetings, so I’ll only be able to continue with this train of thought much later. Still want to discuss front row, loosie and back three combinations.

    In closing, I realise this is a bit idealised, but what the hell, it’s a fun exercise.

  • Comment 3, posted at 06.05.11 07:44:41 by Culling Song Reply
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    Culling Song
  • @Rob: Mvovo is a try scorer. No doubt about that. So he just has to be there. Currently, he can slot in for Odwa or JPP imo. Let one of them come from the bench. Both of them can be used in the back-three, which makes them more of a “utility back” than what Mvovo is.. But I just really think Mvovo should start!

  • Comment 4, posted at 06.05.11 07:47:44 by SharksRTB Reply

  • Not starting Mvovo is a mistake. And playing Oupa at 13 because he is captain is also a mistake, given how that midfield continues to be shown up on both attack and defence. Maybe stick Oupa at 15 for a bit.

    And when will we start blooding new captains considering that both Barney and Oupa (the latter hopefully) will not be here come next season?

    Conservatism may just be costing us.

  • Comment 5, posted at 06.05.11 07:56:01 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • Stef could have moved to fullback and Adi could have started. Ludik needs a rest anyway. Seems we wait for players to get injured before the others can have a go. This all boils down to one problem at the Sharks, poor player management. Plum said at the beginning of the season he is going to rotate his players. When is this going to happen? All he has rotated so far is the Front row. Our coaching staff are shooting themselves in the foot. We keep saying weekend to weekend that this game is the ideal game to start Adi. He should have been given a start by now.

  • Comment 6, posted at 06.05.11 07:59:07 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Just my 2 c worth, from an outsiders perspective. Would have made Hargreaves captain. Jlp at 12 and Adi at 13….Mvovo at left wing.

    Sharks really need to find an out and out opensider / fetcher. Without Botes the Sharks really only have Bissy who plays ‘ to the ball ‘…

    Contract Luke Watson to do the job in superrugby 2012.

  • Comment 7, posted at 06.05.11 08:05:49 by grant10 Reply

  • @shaniboi (Comment 1) : huh…. What!! 🙁

  • Comment 8, posted at 06.05.11 08:13:58 by franshark Reply
  • @shaniboi (Comment 1) : Come again please?

  • Comment 9, posted at 06.05.11 08:23:11 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • grant, we don’t want puke all over our shirts please. no luke watson for me thanks.we have enough loosies

  • Comment 10, posted at 06.05.11 08:26:08 by jovner Reply

  • @grant10 (Comment 7) :
    Been there, done that, burnt the rugby jersey.

  • Comment 11, posted at 06.05.11 08:29:25 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @grant10 (Comment 7) : Just a question… what were JLPs tackle stats like in the games he played? I seem to remember him missing a few (or was that just the Crusaders game?). Im not sure he would solve the defensive issues down the middle. The bottom line is, Bosman and Stef are going to be in the midfield for the rest of the super 15 so we better get used to the idea and hope they come right. Ive been very critical of Bosman the last few weeks, but come Saturday Ill be backing him and hope he has a good one.

  • Comment 12, posted at 06.05.11 08:36:08 by Pablo Dinero Reply

    Pablo Dinero
  • @Pablo Dinero (Comment 12) : I dont believe Bosman is a poor player….in fact he is a reasonably intelligent ,thinking mans inside centre….I do feel though that his confidence is shot and JLP is a great distributor and with Adi outside him I reckon more front foot ball would get to the flyers in JPP and Mvovo….

    I have no idea how good / bad JLP defence is…..can it be any worse than what we witnessed last weekend though?

  • Comment 13, posted at 06.05.11 08:46:26 by grant10 Reply

  • I like this pack no complaints from my side! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 14, posted at 06.05.11 08:47:49 by Original Pierre Reply
    Original Pierre
  • I dont like the idea of dropping Ludik, who is a wonderful player, just to have Stef in the side..

  • Comment 15, posted at 06.05.11 08:55:41 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
  • Plum losing the plot already…hope not so… 🙁

  • Comment 16, posted at 06.05.11 08:56:44 by Charlie Reply

  • @Charlie (Comment 16) :

    I dont think there is much else the coach could have done to be honest..

  • Comment 17, posted at 06.05.11 08:58:30 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 15) : Not dropping him…just rotation…Oupa is afterall more a 15 then a 13 and the Captain needs to play…Smit play prop and hooker to be accomodated…sometimes at the cost of a highly rated player as Bismarck 😉

  • Comment 18, posted at 06.05.11 09:01:17 by Charlie Reply

  • @Charlie (Comment 18) :

    I just cannot see the justification in dropping an in form player.

    Bismarck was coming back from injury, that is why Smit ended up playing there..

  • Comment 19, posted at 06.05.11 09:03:11 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
  • @Charlie (Comment 18) : good point.

    Stef can warm the bench….Hargreaves more than capable of leading the team…..why on earth Adi is always on the bench baffles most non sharks fans… Plum justifys this week in and week out remains a mystery to me.

  • Comment 20, posted at 06.05.11 09:04:42 by grant10 Reply

  • @grant10 (Comment 20) : Impact players serve a large role in todays game! The problem is we see teams go into games they should win and fall apart. I read a statistic that said that most of the tries are scored in the last 20 minutes of a rugby game.

    I cant wait to see coetzee play some rugby ,the young loosies in that sharks xv all look like great prospects ,sharks must tie them up in contracts so tight they get wedgies from them .

  • Comment 21, posted at 06.05.11 09:18:49 by Talent Reply
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 19) : Valid point, but it’s now horses for causes…what we currently have, does not seem to work… 🙁

  • Comment 22, posted at 06.05.11 09:18:56 by Charlie Reply

  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 15) : Easy solution. Ludick to take a rest. Odwa to 15. Mvovo to 14. Adi to 13. Stef to TAFTA and Bosman to the Lions for Doppies.

  • Comment 23, posted at 06.05.11 09:23:05 by Pablo Dinero Reply

    Pablo Dinero
  • @Talent (Comment 21) : Seems AdI Jacobs had been tagged as impact player, doing a great job…but why have him on the bench if the starting players have no real impact on the game…Stormers scored 3 tries in the 1st half that cost the Sharks the game…even with Jacobs coming on with 30min to go it was all done and dusted…Jacobs tried hard but you can’t take on the whole Stormers team and you could see the other Sharks players was not in the game to win it @ that stage… 👿

  • Comment 24, posted at 06.05.11 09:26:14 by Charlie Reply

  • I do rate JLP will be a good 12 but there again we are falling into the same pits as always by taking players and moving them about in positions that can cause a ‘super talent” to become a “some times talent”. The Sharks need to bread some centers, young fast ones at that. Plainly we need a talented center like De Jong or a SBW or even a tackle machine like Strauss again! Oupa needs to go back to 15 and Adi who is a CENTER should get his start, because as we all know he has talent! Is there really no young outstanding center at the Sharks academy or in the Sharks XV team? And that brings me to another point, why sign a 32year old center (might be wrong with the age)? That doesn’t make any sense looking at the future where most of your team will be at an average age of 24-27 come the Currie Cup.

  • Comment 25, posted at 06.05.11 09:27:01 by G West Reply
    Competition Winner Author
    G West
  • @Charlie (Comment 24) : Valid point, stef realy has never added value in terms of attack in the midfield and now his defence is sliding he doesnt add much value at all except from a leadership point of view but even that comes into question when he does stupid things like not kick out or that mark he called when aplon got a drop…

    Long overdue for him to retire but we need a decent replacement.
    In my mind the sharks must do everything in their power to get ruan pienaar or frans steyn back.

  • Comment 26, posted at 06.05.11 09:31:08 by Talent Reply
  • What about playing Mvovo at outside centre?

    He is big enough, he is pretty strong on defence and this will force him to up his work rate, and best part is he will be closer to the ball..

    Just a thought..

  • Comment 27, posted at 06.05.11 09:31:26 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 27) : I think Odwa has more experience and since people moan about his pace anyway he can just move in, problem solved. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 28, posted at 06.05.11 09:33:29 by Original Pierre Reply
    Original Pierre
  • No player can have much impact when you are 15 points down with 10 minutes to go.

    @Richard Ferguson (Comment 15) :
    No different with the Adi selection. Except that Oupa IS qualified to play 15. And Adi is a Bok, while Ludik isn’t.

    Makes no sense, but so be it.

  • Comment 29, posted at 06.05.11 09:35:41 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 27) : Work rate ? Good hands ? But maybe…He tends to be more of a finisher then a creator…

  • Comment 30, posted at 06.05.11 09:37:00 by Charlie Reply

  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 27) : Not a chance ,he doesnt have the distribution ,he may be worse than stef at 13 .Typical 13`s -BOD ,Conrad Smith, Adi ,Jarred Payne and Jaque F all put their outside backs in a more favourabloe position, it is almost a blue bulls way of thinking to say that !! haha

  • Comment 31, posted at 06.05.11 09:38:01 by Talent Reply
  • @Charlie (Comment 30) :
    @Talent (Comment 31) :

    You guys make valid points.. And I agree with what you say..

  • Comment 32, posted at 06.05.11 09:41:02 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • IMO kiwis will miss conrad smith if they decide to play freuan, in both attack and defence.

  • Comment 33, posted at 06.05.11 09:41:08 by Talent Reply
  • Has anyone noticed how Mvovo stands to close to the backline when on defence instead of deep where he is supposed to be. This positional weakness has been exploited in like 6matches already. Opposition teams chip kick and no one is there to cover.

    Ok I wasn’t the greatest player in the world, but in my school playing days as a wing I used to do the same. Reason being was that I used hate standing in the back and used to love getting close into the action where I can defend and get more opportunity’s with ball in hand.
    Mvovo is a game breaker, and with his speed he will probably only excel as a wing in this country, although it would be tempting to try him out as a second centre once in a while. His defence is superb. I’m not sure about his offload abilitys.

  • Comment 34, posted at 06.05.11 09:49:02 by Mocho Reply

  • @Mocho (Comment 34) : Wings need to stay a metre or 2 behind the outside centre on defence…

  • Comment 35, posted at 06.05.11 09:51:07 by Charlie Reply

  • @Mocho (Comment 34) : Wings generally stand flat on defense when they don’t back their man on man defensive abilities. Standing flat allows them to rush up on their opposite number and prevent him from creating any space, or building up speed before the tackle needs to be made. It’s a common tactic employed especially by smaller wings. You can interfere with your opposite number and disrupt him before he runs over you. Unfortunately you leave yourself very exposed to a grubber through or well-placed chip kick.

  • Comment 36, posted at 06.05.11 10:07:12 by Pablo Dinero Reply

    Pablo Dinero

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