war1

Getting the spark back


Written by Warren Smith (war1)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 31 Aug 2011 at 08:00
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This year’s Currie cup for the Sharks has certainly been a frustrating one for us supporters. Despite a comprehensive opening day beating of the Blue Bulls, the Sharks have flattered to deceive and their performances have looked quite patchy for the most part with moments of promise interspersed with maddening losses of concentration and poor play.

That first match against the Blue Bulls was the only complete performance of the Currie cup season so far for the Sharks, where a good attacking performance was backed up by a committed and solid defensive effort. There have been glimpses of promise in both attack and defense. From an attacking perspective, the first quarter demolition job on the Cheetahs was quite pleasing to the eye for Sharks supporters but then tries were leaked to mar an impressive attacking performance which the Sharks have not come close to repeating since.

The clearest indication of the Sharks inconsistency was their performances against the so-called weaker sides. A very narrow win against the Pumas was followed by a hiding against the Griquas and a frustrating three try win at home against the Leopards. The simple fact is when the Sharks are playing well (i.e. Currie cup winning form) they are putting the smaller sides away.

There is certainly not a shortage of opinions on what is wrong with the team and how to fix it. The most common being to drop the centres. What do we do if their replacements don’t instantly perform? Drop them too? We will soon run out of players to pick while not actually getting to the heart of the problem. The truth is, the same players who will play this weekend have shown glimpses of what they can do. The problem, if you scratch a little below the surface, is not the ability of the players that is lacking. They have shown us time and time again that they can do it, if their mindset is right. The players have to get their minds right, that I feel will be key to a Sharks resurgence in this Currie cup.

In a RWC year one would expect that Sharks players who would come in for the most criticism would be the younger and less experienced players still finding their way at Currie cup level. The sad truth is that it has been the senior players who have been underperforming but on the positive side, this may mean that the problems with form could be more easily rectified as it is not a case of them not being able to make the step up from junior rugby. The senior players are expected to lead the younger ones and it has been very disappointing to see that this has often not been the case this Currie cup.

The finger now points firmly in the direction of the captain, Keegan Daniel. He is the leader of what is starting to look like a sinking ship and the responsibility lies at his feet. It was noticeable how he stepped up and lead the forwards in last year’s Currie cup. His leadership was also evident when the Sharks played well this year and his industrious play was an example for the rest of the team to follow. However, as captain one of his jobs is to maintain discipline and when he is the one who gets the yellow cards something is clearly wrong. Maybe he is not handling the pressure of captain well and if that is the case the question has to be asked, is he the right man for the job?

The Currie cup has only reached its half way point and the season is far from done and dusted but the signs are looking worrying for the Sharks faithful. The senior players simply need to step up and lead, they set the tone for the team and at the moment that tone looks flat. The team needs to get the spark back that was evident in that first game. It is up to the coaching staff and senior players to ensure the players and properly motivated, focused and composed. If these things do not happen, I fear we are in for a long season ahead.


10 Comments

  • Maybe the seniors are tired or they are pissed off that they didn’t get World Cup selection so they just don’t give a damn anymore.

  • Comment 1, posted at 31.08.11 08:32:22 by JarsonX Reply
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  • War, I must say that your opening paragraph is an apt description not only of this Currie Cup campaign, but of the Sharks in general. Apart from the 2 Currie Cup trophies, how many campaigns have faltered in the last 15 years for exactly the reasons listed? πŸ™

  • Comment 2, posted at 31.08.11 09:02:21 by Culling Song Reply
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    Culling Song
     
  • Good article, War1. Great summery of the season so far.

  • Comment 3, posted at 31.08.11 09:17:05 by Pokkel Reply
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  • I agree with your summation of the captaincy and discipline. Last game Elton put us away on penalties – without those penalties conceded the game would have flowed in a completely different pattern. Discipline and the lack of it is increasingly knocking on the door and that is one area that is the Captains domain and charged to fix. I questioned his role last week with some friends who cautiously agreed and pointed out that maybe we should have been looking around a lot earlier at captaincy. Who knows, i dont thats for sure!!

  • Comment 4, posted at 31.08.11 09:39:17 by Caratacus Reply

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  • Agree 100%. I just don`t have a lot of confidence in them this season.

    I hope Plum figures out what`s wrong before the business end of this competition.

  • Comment 5, posted at 31.08.11 17:09:53 by Original Pierre Reply
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    Original Pierre
     
  • I think a lot of the Sharks energy has been provided by Freddy so far.

    My favourite game of this CC season to date was the away game at Newlands. It could have gone either way but we came out on top. I thought the team did reasonably well. Freddy was brilliant.

    I wonder if the RWC will have an impact on his mental approach and therefore his form. Will it inspire him to lift his game (which has been heading for a trough recently) in the hopes of getting a call-up if a countrymen gets injured or will he be demoralised by what he sees?

    I also realise that winning a trophy is important. It can change the outlook of the year as a whole and renew the faith in both the coach and certain players but I also felt that building a better team for next season was as important a goal.

    There had to be a balancing act between the 2 goals – short term and long term.

    So in this regard, I don’t know that the Sharks have done enough or sacrificed enough to place themselves in a postion to improve on 6th place in SR.

    In terms of the Currie Cup, I think we are well placed at the moment. We all expect the on field performances to improve and this is a compo where we’ve seen late charges in the past by seemingly written off teams who suddenly find the “spark”

  • Comment 6, posted at 31.08.11 17:40:48 by beet Reply
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  • @Culling Song (Comment 2) : my bad memory seems to recollect us falling at the last hurdle after a relatively good regular season in the past. πŸ™

    But maybe if the wheels come off now, there will be more time to fix it with 6 games to go after this weekend. i o w a blessing in a really really good disguise

  • Comment 7, posted at 31.08.11 17:44:41 by beet Reply
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  • “The truth is, the same players who will play this weekend have shown glimpses of what they can do.”

    This is in reference to our centres. With specific reference to Oupa (as a 13), what glimpses has he shown? Glimpses of adequacy?

    Nothing I have seen from him indicates that he is a good enough 13 at this level.

    Bosman has the ability, but mentally he seems to be lacking at the moment – too much inconsistency for a player at this level.

  • Comment 8, posted at 31.08.11 18:42:17 by Big Fish Reply
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    Big Fish
     
  • @Big Fish (Comment 8) : That line was not referring specifically to any players in particular. It was referring to the the team as a unit. Replacing Stef will not instantly solve all of the Sharks problems. The Sharks can and have played well and won well with Stef at centre but not if they don’t get their minds right.

  • Comment 9, posted at 31.08.11 21:41:04 by war1 Reply
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    war1
     
  • @Big Fish (Comment 8) : While I agree that our centres are a problem, singling out Oupa at 13 is unfair; Marius Joubert has done enough to show that he too has delusions of mediocrity. So please, I implore you, don’t forget about our over-priced, over-hyped import from France! 😈

  • Comment 10, posted at 01.09.11 07:28:46 by Culling Song Reply
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