Richard Ferguson

Stating the obvious

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Super Rugby on 4 Oct 2011 at 08:00
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A lot has been said about Western Province and the blooding of their juniors, with coach Allister Coetzee quoted as saying that at least fifteen U21 players getting game time in the senior team this season so far. Although most of those players only got their opportunity due to crippling injuries, it can still be seen as a succesful exercise.

An equally publicised vocal point has been the Sharks’ clear lack of selecting talent in the centre position, not even mentioning the blooding of a youngster or two. Looking at the four centres that have run out for the Sharks so far this Currie Cup campaign, they have an average age of 31 years old.

Digging a little deeper, and looking at the four centres, we have had Meyer Bosman, Adi Jacobs, Marius Joubert and Stefan Terblanche. Firstly, it is worth mentioning that Terblanche is not even a centre, and that he is actually a wing-cum-fullback that has somehow convinced our coaching staff that he is a centre. So, back the point, we have three aged centres and a very aged wing-cum-fullback who we have doing duty in the centres.

The first problem I have with this combination, is that the best of the four men seems to be out of favour with our dear coach, sitting on the bench and getting his allocation of 15 minutes every game. That was until this past weekend, when the coach changed his mind half an hour before the game and selected Mr Jacobs in the 13 jersey. Finally, we thought he had seen the light, but alas, Adi was pulled with the most important 20 minutes still to play, while the robots around him were allowed to lose the match in that time.

Onto our latest addition, the 32 year old Marius Joubert, who at first was thought to be brought in to add experience in the midfield, only to be sent back to the gym for not being conditioned. What is really sad about this fact, it took our dear coach about 5 weeks to realise that he is not fit enough to play.

The only player who has really put his hand up so far this season, and also the only sub-30 year old amongst the four, is Meyer Bosman, who has been improving throughout. He has shown glimpses of what we all expect from a 12, running at the defence and putting away a pass in contact. Now if only we had someone outside him who could catch said in-contact pass.

Now that we have some background to our maestro’s, we look forward past the Currie Cup, past the End of Year tour and Christmas, and before we know it, we are at the start of another rugby season, a super long rugby season, and what do we have to show in the centres? An even higher average age of 32 years, and nothing else.

This is said on the assumption that both Stefan Terblanche and Adi Jacobs stick around. What really worries me personally, is the fact that there are rumours doing the rounds that, firstly, this is Stefan Terblanche’s last season and secondly, Adi Jacobs is not going to be at the Sharks next season. (Who would blame him, in all honesty?). Either of these situations would leave the Sharks with only three centres who have any experience playing in the midfield.

Then there is also this rumour doing the rounds that the Sharks have signed WesternProvince centre Tim Whitehead, a 23 year old 1.88m 90kg Grey boy that has had a fair bit of game time for the Cape side, but is behind numerous Springboks in Jean de Villiers, Jacque Fourie and Juan de Jongh. This would be a welcome addition to the Sharks centre stock, but still a bit desperate considering the talent we already have in our midst.

What frustrates me most about this situation, is the fact that coach John Plumtree is not a stupid man, and I find it difficult to understand why he put himself in this situation. It leads me to think that he has an idea, what that idea is I am not quite sure, but he seems to be sure that we will be fine come the Super season.

The biggest mistake the Sharks could make is to try and blood the likes of Piet Lindeque, Heimar Williams or Paul Jordaan in SupeRugby, but I suppose that would be better than approaching Rovers centre Gcobani Bobo to make a Shark come back. It is goingto be interesting to see what develops in this regard over the coming months.


  • Just a thought…what if these “old” centres are showing up the youngsters at training…would Plum’s selection be justified then? Im not saying that are or are not, just a thought.

  • Comment 1, posted at 04.10.11 08:24:10 by SheldonK Reply
  • New coach needed πŸ‘Ώ I’m over plum’s ideas they don’t work and we are going to be in trouble come super rugby. Our forwards are something to be proud of with the exception of lock but I’m thinking alberts should play lock from now on for the sharks be an enforcer,and our backline is good until we reach the centres we have fantastic wings,a brilliant flyhalf(lambie) unless plum has more ideas for lambie πŸ™ god forbid and than we have the centres sigh! Its such a problem area and I think it our weakness along with our terrible lineout witch we hardly even contest on opposition throw ins,if plum fails to get the boys to reach the super rugby finals I think he should go I have had enough of this crap

  • Comment 2, posted at 04.10.11 08:34:01 by Poisy Reply
  • @SheldonK (Comment 1) :

    I see where you coming from, and its a valid point, we don’t know what happens at training.

    My opinion stems purely from what I see on the field of play..

  • Comment 3, posted at 04.10.11 08:34:03 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 3) : I wonder if plum actually watches the under 21 games or is he busy with the team when they play,surely if he did watch he would see what we all see about a certain fullback of ours

  • Comment 4, posted at 04.10.11 08:37:17 by Poisy Reply
  • Nice ‘un Rich. The whole centre situation mystifies me. Those who were around at the time will remember me being puzzled at how Waylon Murray fell out of favour, and Oupa was picked ahead of both him and Adi. I believe that is when Plumtree lost the centre plot.

    I agree that we are unlikely to see Oupa and Adi next year, with the latter being a huge loss. We should have used this CC to blood some young centres. Don’t know what else to say really…

  • Comment 5, posted at 04.10.11 08:41:18 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • Perhaps trying to defend the CC succesfully, Plum lost sight of the bigger picture?

  • Comment 6, posted at 04.10.11 08:44:46 by Ice Ice Bokkie Reply
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  • @Ice Ice Bokkie (Comment 6) : I think so.

  • Comment 7, posted at 04.10.11 09:12:16 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Poisy (Comment 4) : Plum obviously watches the u21 game, either live or the video footage. But one must keep in mind that its u21s vs u21s…there is a step up to the senior ranks which not all players make successfully! Im not saying the u21s arent good, all im saying is that you have to view them against senior players not against u21s.

  • Comment 8, posted at 04.10.11 09:18:11 by SheldonK Reply

  • Or as someone else on another thread said that these guys are being paid huge salaries. What would any ceo or board do to the people responsible for bringing in staff, pay them millions, only for them not to be used and cannot be let go bcos those responsible have binded the company to a contract? So the answer is to just play those players regardless of form or ability thereby the coaches/selectors/recruiters get to keep their jobs. Seems to me they just looking after eachother. It will be sad to see such a sharks man like adi go but u cant treat people like that.

  • Comment 9, posted at 04.10.11 09:18:38 by cody0007 Reply

  • @Big Fish (Comment 5) : I really hope Oupa stays on in some sort of coaching position. He may be past his best but he’s still a Shark’s legend.

  • Comment 10, posted at 04.10.11 09:23:40 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 8) : ya I understand that,but if a player is constantly standing out in the under 21s shouldn’t that be an indication that maybe the player deserves higher honors?

  • Comment 11, posted at 04.10.11 09:26:25 by Poisy Reply
  • @SheldonK (Comment 8) : You also will never know if you don’t give them a shot.

  • Comment 12, posted at 04.10.11 09:31:07 by Letgo Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 8) : Also a team full of u/21 beat the Sharks last Saturday. That must say something, at the very least that the current team, may not be up to scratch…or some of them.

  • Comment 13, posted at 04.10.11 09:32:35 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 13) : ouch thanks for pointing that out πŸ™ been avoiding talking abt it

  • Comment 14, posted at 04.10.11 09:40:12 by Poisy Reply
  • @Letgo (Comment 13) : Which means the team that our under 21s only just managed to beat was actually a B team and thus indicating that our under 21 stars are barely capable of beating a B team and now they must step up and beat the A+ team.
    OK, Im just stirring it up a bit but that could be some of the reasoning used.

    Having said that I was hugely impressed with Prinsloo the one time that I saw him playing live but at the time Ludik was doing the business at fullback.

  • Comment 15, posted at 04.10.11 09:56:23 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 1) :
    How could the old centres be “showing up” the youngsters in training? Never mind that they likely don’t train together, its always hard to gauge players “against each other” if they are competing for the same spot – they may bring completely different things to the same position.

    For example, a kid may be quicker and stronger and quicker, but he may lack temperament and his decision-making could be dodgy.

    My feel is that Plumtree feels that a young team needs a few old heads to guide them. I understand his reasoning, but my gripe is that the seniors are not adding value at all – Plumtree needs to bite the bullet and make the call to blood some youth.

  • Comment 16, posted at 04.10.11 10:05:04 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Letgo (Comment 13) : This is true and why @SheldonK (Comment 1) : this may be the case. In both instances they should be dropped. If a player does enough to show up another player in practices and then play poorly game after game he is making a fool of the coach.

    Plumtree’s style is the NZ style where you have to have big centres at all costs. Big players overall is better.

    That is why Adi will never make it in his team, unless Adi revert to scrum-half.

    I personally think our players are beefed up out of proportion and thus lose a lot of speed and hard muscle. Alberts and Deysel comes to mind quickly, but they are just 2 out of 22.

  • Comment 17, posted at 04.10.11 10:05:11 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver Fox
  • Richard, how true is the rumour of Tim Whitehead? Is this on the cards? Think it would be great!

  • Comment 18, posted at 04.10.11 10:33:06 by Reynier Jacobs Reply

  • @Reynier Jacobs (Comment 18) :

    If sources are to be believed, it is on the cards..

  • Comment 19, posted at 04.10.11 10:36:45 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
  • Guys we are seeing exactly what happens in the real world working environment..certain players no matter how hard they try will always take a back seat to those who catch the boss/managers attention..sometimes hard work doesn’t pay off in the end

  • Comment 20, posted at 04.10.11 10:38:17 by shaniboi Reply

  • Piet Lindeque played a few games for the under 21s last year and was then dropped down to the under 19s because he could not make the step up. Maybe it is asking a bit much to expect him to play for the senior team just yet.

  • Comment 21, posted at 04.10.11 11:10:54 by war1 Reply
  • @war1 (Comment 21) :

    I’m not saying they are our saviors.. But it would be nice to see them get a run against a smaller team.

    I can’t see us doing any worse against the Leopards than with an eager to shine youngster?!

  • Comment 22, posted at 04.10.11 11:30:05 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Silver Fox (Comment 17) : There was an article before the u20 World Cup whereby the SA coach and slectors said they have gone for the bigger guys as they had been bullied in contact situations in previous world cups. Which is probably why Williams etc did not make the final cut. Im not saying these guys or smaller guys in general are bad or not good enough. I just think that there is a reason Plum is keeping with the guys he has. I watched the 2nd half of the u21 game on Saturday and the main game and there was a vast difference in the pace and intensity. Now yes some guys can make the step up and look good but others cant but will still look good at the lower level.

  • Comment 23, posted at 04.10.11 11:36:04 by SheldonK Reply

  • @Silver Fox (Comment 17) : What do you mean with big players, purpose to bulldoze over the opposition, NZ players attack the spaces, gaps and usually use to step in beating opposition, seems like Plum is using or having the wrong type of players at his disposal to try and force a gameplan onto Sharks players that just cannot adept to it…Plum might be a born New Zealander, but his coaching style are more of a SA type of coach…John Mitchell surely implements the NZ style of play to the Lions πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 24, posted at 04.10.11 11:40:34 by Charlie Reply

  • @Charlie (Comment 24) : The difference in style of play can be shown by the different injuries sustained by SA and NZ players. NZ players get ankle,knee,goin and hamstring injuries compared to the shoulder,concussion,neck injuries common amongst SA players. I am generalising but still…

  • Comment 25, posted at 04.10.11 12:03:01 by SheldonK Reply

  • Lets hope Whitehead comes to us, lets chase Frans for 12 now,pls! Think that will be great!m

  • Comment 26, posted at 04.10.11 12:05:15 by Reynier Jacobs Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 25) : πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 27, posted at 04.10.11 12:40:05 by Charlie Reply

  • Its been an annus horribilis for the Sharks CC in 2011.

    It has now reached the point where I couldnt care less what they do in the CC or for that matter, if they plan on taking these players into the S15, next year.

    Plum was in the ideal situation to strip out the has beens and introduce some youngsters and has now suddenly found himself in this situation.
    He surely realises the predicament he’s in now, that being too late in the season to blood the likes of Prisnloo, jordaan, Lindeque etc.

    Im not sure what Im more angry about, the fact that Stef and Joubert etc are still playing, or that Plum refuses to bring youngsters into the mix. The truth is that I hate watching the likes of Stef and Joubert run out so much that it actually discourages me from going to games on Sat. And I can walk to the stadium.

  • Comment 28, posted at 04.10.11 14:11:56 by John Galt Reply

    John Galt
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 22) : I hear you but I think that chance has gone. This weekend’s game has now become that little bit more important and as such Plum is even less likely to give his young ‘uns a go.

  • Comment 29, posted at 04.10.11 14:38:23 by war1 Reply
  • I reckon a possible solution to our outside centre problem next year could be Sithole.

  • Comment 30, posted at 04.10.11 15:24:49 by war1 Reply
  • [email protected]war1 (Comment 21) : I know you stated something along these lines after you’d watched our u21 guys up at Loftus and as much as I like everyone else is hoping for an overnight solution to our centre problem, I can’t help but agree that you’re right. Our u21 guys haven’t provided overwhelming on the field evidence to suggest they are the 2011 solution.

    On Saturday they played against 2 WP players of a similar ages and if anything there was more cause to promote the WP centre duo to a higher level ahead of ours.

    All our junior centre candidates are really young (have another year of u21 in 2012) plus I don’t see the harm in them coming on board during SR if they improve and are up to it. The notion that no player can or should make his debut during SR is unrealistic.

  • Comment 31, posted at 04.10.11 15:27:10 by beet Reply
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  • @John Galt (Comment 28) : you don’t think that your horrible anus predictions are just a wee bit dire, considering we’re actually in second place on the log?

  • Comment 32, posted at 04.10.11 15:55:02 by robdylan Reply
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  • Rob “horrible anus” is that an error on purpose? πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 33, posted at 04.10.11 16:03:04 by Sharksmad - The Blog's Dudette Reply

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  • @robdylan (Comment 32) : So true. You Sharkies are a bit oversensitive considering you are winning most of your games.

    Still I am sooooo happy you lost last week, you actually have no idea 😈

  • Comment 34, posted at 04.10.11 16:06:21 by Clayton(PJLD) Reply
  • @Sharksmad – The Blog’s Dudette (Comment 33) : what do YOU think, doll? πŸ™‚

  • Comment 35, posted at 04.10.11 16:22:02 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Clayton(PJLD) (Comment 34) : I reckon you’re about as happy as we are… well…. not so happy.

  • Comment 36, posted at 04.10.11 16:22:28 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 32) :
    But then again, I think us being second on the log has more to do with the inconsistent performances(putting it mildly) dished up by other unions this year, with the exception of the Lions.
    Also, I think we’ve been a bit lucky with other results going our way (FS snatching draws from the jaws of victory on 2 seperate occasions etc.)

    You have to admit its been a terrible CC so far.
    For the most part, the side the Sharks field week in and week out, with the likes of Deysel, Daniel, Burden, v Staden, Mcleod, Michalak, Mvove, Coetzee etc etc should be pulverising most teams.

    We basically lost to an U21 side on the weekend. At home. And the quality of rugby dished up by the Sharks the whole year has been abysmal, you have to at least admit that. i just cant see us beating FS, Province, Lions or even the Bulls, the way they are playing at the moment, in the knockouts.

  • Comment 37, posted at 04.10.11 16:55:46 by John Galt Reply

    John Galt
  • @John Galt (Comment 37) : I think this is when the Union really has to put the coach under pressure to deliver. Come up with a game plan that brings the best out of our players, utilises our strengths and masks our weaknesses.
    On Saturday we got some good quality 2nd phase ball to work with but our formations on the pitch (something best witnessed from the stands in the ground) looked very like 1D designs that we easy to read and stop. We need designs that keep the opposition guessing and scrambling to get reorganised. Admittedly form players play a part in creating this spark but the coaches are just as much to blame imho.

    Also we’re getting to a point in the season when the pressure should start to tell, so old heads that may not be the form players of the campaign need to draw on something that the much younger pace-setters can’t fall back on.

    We have to start playing smart rugby. It’s not too late to hit form. In fact, given our circumstances and fortuitous log position, if we start improving now, we’re in the prime seat to go all the way.

    Ahhh! Nice to be optimistic now and again :mrgreen:

  • Comment 38, posted at 04.10.11 17:10:58 by beet Reply
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