Pablo Dinero

The coaching conundrum


Written by Pablo Dinero (Pablo Dinero)

Posted in :Original Content, Reader Submissions, Sharks, Super Rugby on 15 Jun 2011 at 14:22
Tagged with : , , , , ,

Firstly, let me start of by stating that I am a big fan of John Plumtree’s. Firstly when he was a player for the sharks in the 90s, then as an assistant to Dick Muir and more recently as head coach of the Sharks.

Since he joined up with the Sharks, post Kevin Putt, there has been a noticeable improvement in the standing and status of the team. As an assistant coach he instilled the forward grunt and power play to contrast with Dick Muir’s run at all cost open style. As a head coach, he has brought home 2 Currie Cup trophies. That’s a pretty good haul considering before his tenure the Sharks last won a trophy in 1996. He is a successful Currie Cup coach and masterminded the Sharks exciting New Zealand style employed to great success in 2010. So why the criticism? Why the doom and gloom? The bottom line is, he has not been a particularly effective super rugby coach. Since taking over the reins from Dick Muir after the 2008 season, the Sharks haven’t made it back to the knockout rounds. 2009, his first year as a coach started off promisingly, but ended in disaster as the Sharks returned home after a highly successful tour and then proceeded to lose a succession of games (starting with a thumping at the hands of the Cheetahs) in SA to ultimately finish 6th (Ironically a position which would have qualified them for the playoffs this year). 2010 was the polar opposite of 2009 with the Sharks losing their first 5 games before winning 7 of their last 8. This was still not good enough to be anywhere near the playoff spots and the Sharks finished a distant 9th.

This year, the Sharks are embroiled in a battle for survival going down to the final match of the season, a titanic away match at Loftus. Should the Sharks fail, they will ultimately end 7th. Should they win… well, I will submit a full apology and open myself to full ridicule. Finishing mid-table is not a sin in itself, but with a squad of players that was roundly hyped before the season, a 7th place finish would be nothing short of a disaster. More worrying is the way in which the Sharks have played, or rather haven’t played. So confusing in fact is their style that even the “experts” who write for a certain WP loving evil-hobbit’s site have contradicted themselves in the same paragraph as to what the Sharks are doing wrong, with one “expert” claiming the Sharks “desire to play loose rugby, running the ball from all parts of the field without earning the right to go wide” was the Sharks major problem, before stating in the same breath that the other team had figured out the Sharks monotonous “bash it up with big ball carriers” style. Hmmm… anyway, the sharks have imposed little style in the past few months, and this must surely be a coaching issue. Plum has also made some bizarre selections recently, displaying unwavering faith in his failed midfield partnership, insisting John Smit is a prop (hell, even Pdivvy has given up on that), not resting players who clearly desperately need it and not backing any youth players. His most widely reported strength (coaching forwards) has been hard to spot as the Sharks have been manhandled up front by the Stormers (twice), the Bulls (once) and even the lowly Lions (for 60 minutes). The Sharks backline is stagnant outside of a composed, but to be honest slightly bored looking Lambie and 2 flying wings who only get the ball when the opposition turn it over.

Something is not right, and the coach is the man who should be there to fix it. He should be the guy dictating what style the team should employ, making sure he has the right guys to do it and making sure they are physically in the right place to get it done. Come on Plum, you have one last chance… one more, to turn this season around. There can be no more “next week”, the super 15 results last week ensured the Sharks cannot back into the playoffs on a losing streak. This game could well be the yardstick by which the current Sharks squad is measured. Will they stand tall and be counted or will they, like previous generations of Sharks super rugby teams, capitulate and be found wanting when the chips are down. There is no better test of their mettle than what they face this weekend, a must win against the team known for getting it done, a team who snatched the first South African super rugby title from under the noses of the Sharks and I for one will be shouting Black and White all the way. Please, Plum, give us something to be proud of, or maybe its time for the Sharks to reconsider their options at coach.


43 Comments

  • Maybe it’s just me but if I was pointing the finger at anyone, my finger would be pointed at Grant Bashford. I know he’s the defensive coach and apart from the midfield and our inability to boss the collisions it’s been our defense which has let us down the most this season. But it has not changed all season and there has been no improvement.

    If our defense was more sound, I’m not sure we would have lost to the Chiefs or the Stormers in Durban and hell, we might have come a LOT closer to the Crusaders at Twickers. That’s 8 – 10 points right there. It’s not only a guaranteed playoff spot, but top of the SA log and quite possibly top of the whole conference.

  • Comment 1, posted at 15.06.11 14:27:09 by Butchie34 Reply
    Author
     
  • @Butchie34 (Comment 1) : Interesting comment but I think that may only be part of the problem. The failure to appoint more specialist coaches is also concerning.

  • Comment 2, posted at 15.06.11 14:39:18 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    vanmartin
     
  • sharks will be back with a bang from next year….

  • Comment 3, posted at 15.06.11 15:13:43 by grant10 Reply

     
  • @grant10 (Comment 3) : thanks for the vote of confidence 🙂

  • Comment 4, posted at 15.06.11 15:25:18 by franshark Reply
    Author
    Franshark
     
  • lets face it the odds are against us, but we still got a chance to win the game. as long as there is a chance, there is hope. bring it on bulls!!!

  • Comment 5, posted at 15.06.11 15:48:49 by jovner Reply

    jovner
     
  • I’m not sure we consider the insider politics that goes on in NRU – it’s hectic to say the least.

  • Comment 6, posted at 15.06.11 16:11:09 by Caratacus Reply

    Caratacus
     
  • @Caratacus (Comment 6) : Enlighten us that think all is schweeet.

  • Comment 7, posted at 15.06.11 16:24:46 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
     
  • @Caratacus (Comment 6) : ja… can’t just make a throwaway comment like that and then leave it 🙂

  • Comment 8, posted at 15.06.11 16:29:54 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylan
     
  • Interesting read. What puzzles me is why the same team (barring Andries Strauss) that beat both a full strength Bulls and Stormers in the Currie Cup can now seemingly not be able to defend? Why would any coach alter defensive patterns that were successful a mere 6 months or so ago? I mean if it is not broke don’t fix it!
    I agree that more rotation of players could have helped with player fatigue but have other teams rotated more regularly? – not really. Victor M who played out of his socks last week has only missed 1 game!
    For some mysterious reason the Sharks appear to have hit a brick wall and are only playing with a sparkle for short periods during a game. I personally feel it is a mental thing but is it too late to change?

  • Comment 9, posted at 15.06.11 16:30:31 by senior Reply

    senior
     
  • Here’s my beef:
    The Sharks have an incredibly successful Sharks Academy. Now I don’t mind the coach and Dolph buying these ancient has-beens if they can offer something the youngsters cannot. But can you really say that Meyer Bosman, Stefan Terblanche and Marius Joubert offer more than an up-and-coming centre from the Academy does? I admire the way Alistair Coetzee backs his young pups and gives them chances, even in the Super tournament. You must remember it was injuries that forced Plum to field Pat Lambie and Lwazi Mvovo in 2009’s Super tournament. Heaven knows what would have happened to Lambie if he hadn’t gotten that chance. Oh yes! Most likely still warming the bench behind Stefan Terblanche. 🙄 Plum has absolutely no clue how to recognize, recruit and develop our young talent. He hangs on like a pitbull to the same underperforming players week in, week out. It’s ridiculous.

  • Comment 10, posted at 15.06.11 16:41:47 by CapeShark Reply
    Author
    The Great Couch Shark
     
  • @franshark (Comment 4) : I wouldn’t trust the opinion of someone who hasn’t uploaded a profile pic in 3 years. 😆

  • Comment 11, posted at 15.06.11 16:43:29 by CapeShark Reply
    Author
    The Great Couch Shark
     
  • @senior (Comment 9) : Is our defence really bad. I know it seems that way but if defence equates to tries leaked then we are sitting pretty with only the Stormers (14) and Waratahs (21) having conceded less than us on 26.
    Stats obtained from SUPERXV.

  • Comment 12, posted at 15.06.11 16:48:22 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
     
  • @Salmonoid (Comment 12) : You have to remember our defence really went down s%#$’s creek in the last two games against the Cheetahs and the Lions. Lucky for us, even with missing tackles in our own 22, the opposition managed to confound themselves and not score.

  • Comment 13, posted at 15.06.11 16:51:53 by CapeShark Reply
    Author
    The Great Couch Shark
     
  • @CapeShark (Comment 10) : Do you think its possible that Plum and his coaches did in fact have a good look at what the academy and, hopefully, the clubs had to offer and found them all wanting for the then requirements. Just asking because I dont have any info at all except for what is written on blogs.

  • Comment 14, posted at 15.06.11 16:56:30 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
     
  • @CapeShark (Comment 13) :Thinking back on the season it feels as if we have been leaking tries by the bucketful. Add Crusaders and Stormers at Newlands to games where we were shown up.

  • Comment 15, posted at 15.06.11 17:00:09 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
     
  • @Salmonoid (Comment 14) : Yes, but we gonna be in big trouble if we don’t start grooming some young centres soon. It’ll be like the whole flyhalf balls-up that saw us without a permanent number 10 for 4 years.

  • Comment 16, posted at 15.06.11 17:07:12 by CapeShark Reply
    Author
    The Great Couch Shark
     
  • @CapeShark (Comment 16) : By all accounts we have some really promising centres coming through so heres hoping that they have been identified as such and are backed with top notch mentoring from Adi and Marius Joubert.

  • Comment 17, posted at 15.06.11 17:23:36 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
     
  • @Salmonoid (Comment 17) : I don’t see what more you can really do than identify some of the best young centres at Craven Week, lure them to your Academy and then find ways to fast track them into the senior squad through an appropriate mentorship program.

    Seems we’ve done steps 1 and 2, but can’t figure out how to (or can’t be bothered to ) do step 3.

  • Comment 18, posted at 15.06.11 17:38:25 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylan
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 18) : just to elabrate, it doesn’t make sense that every young centre we bring into the academy fails to step up.

    That either means we are identifying the wrong guys (unlikely, since they generally all make SA Schools) or our coaching/development process is wrong.

  • Comment 19, posted at 15.06.11 17:39:39 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylan
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 19) : either way, buying Jouberts every season is just papering over the cracks. We need to find the broken bit of the process and fix it.

  • Comment 20, posted at 15.06.11 17:40:17 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylan
     
  • Not easy being a coach .I think he has placed value in senior players that have not rewarded him for his faith. I think next year we hit the refresh button get rid of the deadwood and embrace youngsters like Cooper ,Herbst ,Coetzee & Lambie and hand the reigns over to the new dons; Kanko ,Bissy ,Beast ,Daniels, Alberts & Deysel

    Hope we do it this weekend boys

  • Comment 21, posted at 15.06.11 17:49:14 by Talent Reply
    Author
    Talent
     
  • @CapeShark (Comment 10) : When the Sharks brought Oom Stef back, he brought a lot to the Sharks. Two Currie Cup victories and some superb play at both 15 and 13 (not this year). Stef’s only problem is he may have stayed one year too long. But when he was signed again by the Sharks, it was a very positive signing and brought much to the Sharks. We still don’t know what Joubert will offer, and Bosman has been very good the past two matches. Sorry just can not agree with you that all these signings were bad.

  • Comment 22, posted at 15.06.11 17:55:16 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Dancing Bear
     
  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 22) : l agree that the signings have not necessarily been bad. What has been lacking is a clear plan to *in conjunction with* the signings develop and expose young players.

  • Comment 23, posted at 15.06.11 18:16:12 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
     
  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 22) : Not all have been bad but a good signing would have been frans steyn or ruan pienaar ,they havnt been bad …but not GREAT

  • Comment 24, posted at 15.06.11 18:28:15 by Talent Reply
    Author
    Talent
     
  • @Culling Song (Comment 23) : Spot on CS. AC with the Stormers does seem much more willing to blood young players in SupeRugby than Plum does. While I understand that the pressures placed on a coach makes it very difficult to steer away from the tried and true, but I wish Plum would be a little less conservative when it comes to rotation policy and blooding youngsters.

  • Comment 25, posted at 15.06.11 18:28:19 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Dancing Bear
     
  • @Talent (Comment 24) : Talent, I know this was not you, but a majority of the bloggers on this site were only too happy to see Steyn leave the Sharks, and there were quite a few happy to see Ruan leave as well. So I just don’t think the Sharks management will ever make all their supporters happy.

  • Comment 26, posted at 15.06.11 18:30:34 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Dancing Bear
     
  • True ,cant understand why people couldnt see the value of those players.

  • Comment 27, posted at 15.06.11 19:08:37 by Talent Reply
    Author
    Talent
     
  • @Talent (Comment 27) : Steyn had something of an attitude problem while at the Sharks. I am not sure if he has overcome that yet, but the fact he is so heavy makes me wonder how good a work ethic he has. I have always thought Ruan to be a superb player and individual. He got messed around by PdV badly, forcing him to play 10, telling him he is his number one, and then dropping him for M Steyn first chance he had. I wish the Sharks had managed to retain Ruan, but I think Fransie needed some time away from SA to grow and mature.

  • Comment 28, posted at 15.06.11 19:11:48 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Dancing Bear
     
  • @Salmonoid (Comment 17) : Who are these centres?? Why aren’t they in Italy? Jordaan is a wing!! I’ve said this all season, go to Province if you want centres. The Bulls have seen the light and are chasing Sadie. We also need an attacking fullback. Ludik is a good CC player, this level is too much for him. Those that think otherwise, ask yourself, how many tries has he scored this year, how many passes has he made (yes, passes), how many grubbers has he made, when last did he step..etc. Plum needs help. Just found out that Bash is the defence coach! Wow!! Thought he was a backline consultanat! Don’t know why Deon Kayser isn’t coaching the backline. Province is chasing Viljoen and we settle for old men that will not be able to keep up at this level. RS and Plum are not a good combination, we need a director of rugby…someone like Jake, Eddie Jones, the role needs someone with rugby brains. Still think we are going to win on Saturday but that won’t solve our serious problems.

  • Comment 29, posted at 15.06.11 19:22:36 by GreatSharksays Reply

     
  • @senior (Comment 9) : These teams have brains in their coaching ranks, Rassie and Meyer!! SA Rugby mag a while ago revealed how pissed off Rassie was with WP’s strategy that Allister employed against us. He is now involved and it shows. We have a one man band imo..Mr Plum.

  • Comment 30, posted at 15.06.11 19:31:18 by GreatSharksays Reply

     
  • For anyone getting too hopeful for Saturday, answer this as honestly as you can:

    Do you really believe the Sharks players believe they can win 4 away games on the trot against the tournament’s best to win the trophy?

    I’m sure the extreme optimists amongst you will disagree, but if the Sharks couldn’t even beat the 14th placed team away last weekend, I can’t see them doing it…

    Now, let’s just say the players aren’t FULLY confident themselves that they can do it, just how far are they going to dig to win the game this weekend when the chips are down?

    A tough away win against the Bulls will most likely be rewarded with an away fixture against the Blues (4th vs 5th).

    An away win against the Blues will most likely be rewarded with an away fixture against the Reds in the semis…

    If the Sharks pull this off against the odds (knowing our record in Brisbane)it’s likely either the Stormers or Crusaders, away, in the final.

    I just don’t see the Sharks believing they can win all those games, sorry, especially after the Crusaders and Stormers stuffed them up good and proper this season already… and I therefore don’t see them wanting it too much.

    I’m going into the game with zero expectation. Sad.

  • Comment 31, posted at 15.06.11 20:05:10 by siorc Reply

    Gold's Member
     
  • Sorry for the really negative post above, I guess I’m still disappointed how the season has ultimately panned out…again.

    *sigh*

  • Comment 32, posted at 15.06.11 20:06:17 by siorc Reply

    Gold's Member
     
  • @siorc (Comment 31) : To some degree you have hit the nail on the head. The Sharks for the past several weeks have made making the playoffs their goal. Everyone has talked about how if we picked up a point or two here and there we could have gone to Loftus not requiring a win. I said on another post, that is completely the wrong way to think. Its basically accepting that the playoffs are as good as it gets for this team. If the Sharks win at Loftus against a team with a reputation for getting the job done and the defending champs to boot, yes, finally that may kick start the self belief and they can go to NZ or wherever knowing they have beaten one of the best away from home when it really counted. That is the key. If the Waratahs lose to the Brumbies and dont get a point and the Sharks back into the playoffs without doing anything at Loftus, its just prolonging our agony by another week. Might as well bring it to a head right now and be done with it.

  • Comment 33, posted at 15.06.11 20:17:40 by Pablo Dinero Reply

    Pablo Dinero
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 20) : Absolutely agree with this. Sharks need to use the Currie Cup to test and give experience to new centers. If they start with the tired Bosman/Terblanche combo, they will have set themselves back another year as everyone knows they dont have the balls to blood a new center in the super 15 in 2012.

  • Comment 34, posted at 15.06.11 20:22:23 by Pablo Dinero Reply

    Pablo Dinero
     
  • @Pablo Dinero (Comment 33) : yeah, I have been hugely disappointed at how just making the play offs now seems to be the goal for the team. It’s a pretty defeatist attitude if you ask me, especially since finishing 5th or 6th means squat anyway. Painting a Corolla red doesn’t make it a Ferrari.

  • Comment 35, posted at 15.06.11 20:43:29 by siorc Reply

    Gold's Member
     
  • @siorc (Comment 35) : Unless you’re Michael Naicker 🙂

  • Comment 36, posted at 15.06.11 21:19:58 by Pablo Dinero Reply

    Pablo Dinero
     
  • Heard that Lambie at 15 and Michalak at 10 for the Bulls game a very real possibility.

  • Comment 37, posted at 16.06.11 08:35:15 by grant10 Reply

     
  • @grant10 (Comment 37) : did you overhear it from someone who had read the article on Sport24? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 38, posted at 16.06.11 08:40:53 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylan
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 38) : mate in Durbs who has a Corporate box and is close to someone in the camp….saw arcticle now…seems where there is smoke there is fire!

  • Comment 39, posted at 16.06.11 08:51:32 by grant10 Reply

     
  • @robdylan (Comment 38) : 😆

  • Comment 40, posted at 16.06.11 08:59:55 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    sharks_lover
     
  • @grant10 (Comment 39) : well, if we’re comparing “equipment” size, I heard about it two days ago :p

  • Comment 41, posted at 16.06.11 09:09:09 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylan
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 41) : I think you may be comparing ….I was simply posting something I felt may be of interest to the bloggers that I heard last nite from a Durban based friend of mine.

  • Comment 42, posted at 16.06.11 09:18:11 by grant10 Reply

     
  • @grant10 (Comment 42) : last night only?

    Ok, mine’s definitely bigger. At least twice as big 🙂

  • Comment 43, posted at 16.06.11 09:31:47 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylan
     

Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.