Most to gain (and most to lose)

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 17 Feb 2012 at 08:54
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

While tonight’s final warm-up match against the Kings will obviously be a key one for all the players concerned, with places in the team for next week’s match against the Bulls very much up for grabs, you have to acknowledge that there will be a fair bit more pressure for some than for others.

Let’s face it, guys like Bismarck du Plessis, Pat Lambie and JP Pietersen aren’t exactly going to be left out for the Bulls match even if they play poorly against the Kings (although Pietersen may find himself shifted back to wing in that case) but for others – five players in particular – there truly is everything to play for.

Anton Bresler turned 24 yesterday and is still pretty young for a lock forward. He has emerged, somewhat surprisingly, as a strong contender to play in the number 5 jersey against the Bulls (he’s been picked to start there two weeks in a row) after most considering him as part of the hefty pile competing for a spot at 4. Bresler is keeping veteran Ross Skeate on the bench right now – and Bok lock Alistair Hargreaves out of the squad altogether – but you can be sure he knows just how tenuous that position must be. He’ll want to cap off his birthday celebrations with another fine performance, particularly in the line outs, to stamp his name so indelibly on that number 5 jersey that no amount of scrubbing could possibly remove it.

Tera Mtembu has been granted a last-minute reprieve, after Jacques Botes was forced to cry off as the result of a mystery leg infection. A loose forward who fails to fit neatly into any of the established boxes, one gets the feeling that the coaches don’t always know exactly what to do with Tera and occasionally try to force him into playing a game that cramps his natural style. He’s a man with genuine x factor, though – the ability to bring that moment of magic to a game – and reminds one strongly of a young Bob Skinstad or Keegan Daniel in the way he approaches the game. Picked out of position on the blind side flank tonight, Tera will have the opportunity to demand selection against the Bulls, where his game breaking ability may just possibly open up a bench spot. His competition, another youngster in Pieter-Steph du Toit, has already shown the coaches plenty as a loose forward and should be a pretty good bet for the Loftus 22, unless tonight goes badly for him.

Charl McLeod looks to have been given a lifeline of his own after Fred Michalak, by virtue of a great outing against Boland, has ahead in the race for the number 9 jersey. Michalak has been removed from this match under the strangest of circumstances, opening the door for McLeod to lay down a strong marker and remind the coaches that it was he, not Michalak, who partnered Pat Lambie during the latter’s meteoric rise to fame back in 2010 and that he is still the best man available to get Lambie the quick ball he needs to dictate matters at flyhalf. Spare a thought for Cobus Reinach, who’ll have plenty of work to do coming off the bench to create just the tiniest amount of doubt in the coaches’ minds that they have the two best scrumhalves in the squad already identified.

Tim Whitehead is another who made full use of his chances against Boland and has been rewarded with another start in a jersey that many assumed to be Meyer Bosman’s assured property. The former WP lad will realise that he is still an unknown entity to the coaches who, to use a cliche, will “know what they have in Bosman”. Whitehead’s opportunity here is a big one – he’ll need to show that he can do the things that Bosman can do – such as distribution and clever selection of angles – equally well, while also bringing a stronger running and defensive game to complete the picture. We all know that John Plumtree tends to revert to “safety first” selections when the chips are down, so Tim’s big challenge here will be to prove that he can offer excitement without compromising on that safety.

It seems that Paul Jordaan is the name on everyone’s lips at the moment, with the consensus being that he is potentially the most exciting young back to emerge for the Sharks in some years. A player with a genuine flair and penchant for the unpredictable, there are nevertheless a few valid question marks around the maturity of his decision-making, as well as his defensive ability and he will need to erase at least some of those doubts tonight if he’s to force his way onto the bench for the Bulls clash, ahead of the likes of Bosman, Whitehead and others. If Jordaan is to be used against the Bulls, it will be as an impact replacement and my strong suspicion is that he’ll be deployed on the wing tonight, to judge how well he can spark his magic from that position. Either way, he has a huge amount to play for and I’m sure a lot of fans will be very excited at the prospect of what he can bring to the Sharks, if not right now then definitely in future seasons.

While we could only highlight a small number of the guys involved, rest assured that, as always, we’re fully behind all the guys in the squad for tonight’s game. Let’s hope they go out there and really lay down a strong marker ahead of the tough trip to Loftus that awaits.


  • Good luck guys. Go Sharks!!

  • Comment 1, posted at 17.02.12 09:03:21 by JarsonX Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition WinnerCompetition Winner
  • Good Article.

    Pity supersport isn`t coming to the party. 👿

  • Comment 2, posted at 17.02.12 09:13:24 by Original Pierre Reply
    Original Pierre
  • I hope they give them a 100-0 slapping, just to rub in that they don’t belong in Super rugby.

  • Comment 3, posted at 17.02.12 09:15:52 by MJ Reply

  • This is sooooo exciting! Jordaan is still young but they need to give him a shot at developing his game this year. Even if its only a couple of matches of the bench. In two or three years he could be one of the stars in the sharks outfit if not the boks.

  • Comment 4, posted at 17.02.12 09:20:28 by Viking Reply
  • @MJ (Comment 3) : I second that 😈

  • Comment 5, posted at 17.02.12 09:21:01 by Viking Reply
  • @MJ (Comment 3) :
    @Viking (Comment 5) :

    That would make the outing somewhat pointless, don’t you think?

  • Comment 6, posted at 17.02.12 09:24:38 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
  • What were critics saying about our lock and centre depth and performance?

  • Comment 7, posted at 17.02.12 09:30:12 by Die Kriek Reply

  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 6) : i think the point of the match is to test some combinations in a more (Hopefully) challenging environment. If we beat them 100 – 0, my gues would be that some combinations works very well and the hard work has paid off. I wouldn’t like to hear about things that didn’t work which sends us back to the drawing board.

    But lets wait and see.

  • Comment 8, posted at 17.02.12 09:35:45 by Viking Reply
  • For me Jordaan is a must on the Bench…can cover 4 positions, and even on wing can make a big impact…say coming on for Odwa. Whitehead…i want him at 12 next week, solid defender and we need attack over safety right now…so start him.

    The 3 backs on the bench Mcloed, Bosman and Jordaan. I hope so. If they opt for a 5-2 split, Bosman to take the drop. Freddy can cover 10, Jordaan 12 and Viljoen can cover both positions if needed…so no need to have Bossie on the bench for cover.

  • Comment 9, posted at 17.02.12 09:36:54 by JJR Reply
  • @Die Kriek (Comment 7) : Although things look promising, the jury is still out on that one.

  • Comment 10, posted at 17.02.12 09:37:17 by Viking Reply
  • @JJR (Comment 9) : First game of the season I would rather go with Bosman and his experience @ 12. Get settled into the game and when things go well you can bring on a guy like Whitehead or Jordaan.

  • Comment 11, posted at 17.02.12 09:39:20 by Viking Reply
  • @JJR (Comment 9) : do you have German ancestors? I’ve noticed you tend to randomly capitalise nouns… 🙂

  • Comment 12, posted at 17.02.12 09:43:46 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • The fact that Plum and kie have said that no decision has been made yet for JP to start at 13 come next week tells me that anything is still possible, don’t be surprised if a few non selected players like Harry start the following week….

  • Comment 13, posted at 17.02.12 09:43:56 by Franshark Reply
  • @Franshark (Comment 13) : don’t read anything into that.

    I think JP would need to break his leg tonight to lose that number 13 jersey for the Bulls game.

  • Comment 14, posted at 17.02.12 09:44:54 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Mon the Sharks 😎

    Just let them think they are getting back into it in the second half so kick them back down even harder 😈

    Where is the game though?

  • Comment 15, posted at 17.02.12 09:45:38 by LordHope Reply

  • @LordHope (Comment 15) : Nelson Mandela Stadium

  • Comment 16, posted at 17.02.12 09:48:28 by Viking Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 14) : I surely hope so, my stomach is turning with excitement and nerves..

  • Comment 17, posted at 17.02.12 09:52:45 by Franshark Reply
  • Funny how age is only a factor for certain players ,Bressler 24, Marais 23, but not for others, P-S du Toit, 20? Isn’t there an English proverb about goose and gander? I remember something like that from my school days. Has it only change at the Sharks or everywhere?

  • Comment 18, posted at 17.02.12 10:13:42 by FS Shark Reply

    FS Shark
  • @FS Shark (Comment 18) : What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. There is also a sports specific quote that goes, “if you’re good enough, you’re old enough” although in Oupa’s case this seems to be reversed

  • Comment 19, posted at 17.02.12 10:16:08 by Die Kriek Reply

  • I get a feeling that for Bresler and Whitehead, this game is a case of play themselves into next Friday’s starting lineup rather than their starting spots being there to lose.

    In the interests of seeing more aggressive and innovative backline play this season, I hope Whitehead delivers a performance to push him ahead of Bosman.

    Of Bresler, I’m not sure what to expect. In the lineout setpiece, I have this uncomfortable feeling about him at 5. I hope I’m wrong but I can’t help but believe that he might go missing in action here when SR starts and lineouts are so key to success. Also want to see him continue to be the presence he was in the loose once the season starts.

  • Comment 20, posted at 17.02.12 10:20:59 by beet Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @FS Shark (Comment 18) : My take is that they are both good enough and two of my favourite players! I was hoping for both to be back-up to the older locks. But (how true this is I cannot say) apparently locks get better with age. In the case of du Toit, I reckon his “advantage” is that he seems pretty good at flank, so that give him the edge because he can cover more positions..?

  • Comment 21, posted at 17.02.12 10:27:49 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @FS Shark (Comment 18) : I for one am quite keen to see PS du Toit play. I have heard a lot about the young man but would reserve comment on his play untill I see him in action. The problem though is if he does not make the cut for S15 then its going to be a long wait for Vodacom Cup to kick off.

  • Comment 22, posted at 17.02.12 10:34:27 by Viking Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 12) : Ha Ha, my ancestors are actually French…Yes, i tend to make that mistake 🙂

  • Comment 23, posted at 17.02.12 11:19:09 by JJR Reply
  • @Viking (Comment 16) : Thanks, have and or will all of the Kings games (bar competitive [at least for the opposition :lol:] games) be at home this year?

  • Comment 24, posted at 17.02.12 11:53:38 by LordHope Reply

  • @FS Shark (Comment 18) : 😈 It is more about (mental) maturity than age. Jordaan & Du Toit are employable for SR and they will most certainly play in the senior team this year. Because we are spoilt for choice they should not be included in the first game but play off the bench to build up confidence. The VC will be employed to keep players match fit, but there is more than enough games to share and injuries will force many changes. 😈

  • Comment 25, posted at 17.02.12 12:11:51 by KILLER SHARK Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 6);From a sharks point of view yes, but for the greater good of SA rugby: no

  • Comment 26, posted at 17.02.12 12:22:15 by MJ Reply

  • 😈 WHERE TO PLAY THE BULLS? The lineouts will be where they feel they can take us. We need to disrupt them here before they do us. To get lineouts they will play for position and Viljoen must keep attacking if the kick to force a game plan change.
    They will look at the new scrum rules and try to disrupt us up front and will barge over the advantage line with big guys. We need to be good on the ground or they will gain enough in the close quater battles. I predict a kicking game from them? 😈

  • Comment 27, posted at 17.02.12 12:22:28 by KILLER SHARK Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter

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