Avoiding another Alberts situation

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 6 Mar 2012 at 09:30
Tagged with : , , , ,

One of the reasons to which the Sharks’ Super Rugby slump in 2011 can be attributed was player attrition; simply put, certain key men were “played into the ground” during the first part of the season, only to break down later in the campaign without any match-fit (or battle-hardened) backup ready to step in.

Willem Alberts was probably the “poster child” for this style of player mismanagement, with the burly number 7 eventually ruled out for large chunks of the second half of the year after sustaining a shoulder injury which very nearly cost him his World Cup place. It’s the same shoulder that has kept him out of the side’s first two games.

We’ve decided to keep the coaches honest in this regard, if we can, by keeping track of the total game time amassed by each of the players over the campaign. Obviously we realise that one can’t take an eenie-meenie-minie-mo approach to selection and rotation, but it would nevertheless be far healthier, both from the perspective of reducing injuries and developing depth, that the entire squad is afforded more equal opportunities to play.

While this is, of course, premature after just two rounds (nobody is expecting rotation this early, I would imagine) it is nonetheless interesting to see which players, even now, are expected to play more than which others. In this brutal competition, I would be quite surprised to see any player go through three four full games without being substituted off or rested at some point, with even three possibly pushing it a little.

Top of the pops at the moment are seven players, meaning that about half of the first-choice fifteen have not been replaced in either of the games so far and have 160 minutes of rugby each under their belts already. They are Dale Chadwick, Bismarck du Plessis, Keegan Daniel, Marcell Coetzee, Pat Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo and JP Pietersen.

In some of these cases, it makes perfect sense for the players to stay on and play; Pietersen and Lambie, for instance, are in different positions to the ones they played in last year (although Lambie was only temporarily moved to fullback last year, it would seem) so it follows that the more game time they get in those positions, the better. Mvovo also doesn’t exactly look like the extra game time is doing him any harm.

Daniel, of course, is the captain and as such it’s to be expected that he would stick around until the end – however, the hope is that we may soon be in a position to safely sub him off in a game or two where the result is beyond doubt with a quarter of an hour still to go. It is the other three players that are perhaps a greater cause for concern, albeit for different reasons.

Marcell Coetzee, simply put, plays a highly physical role in the team and has been put through a lot of contact in the last two weeks. We need to remember that he is still young too, but it is in his case that the risk of an Alberts or Jean Deysel-style chronic overuse injury seems most realistic. Having Alberts back this weekend will help, but I wouldn’t like to see Marcell play all 80 minutes of the next two matches as well.

In Chadwick’s case, it’s trickier, simply because there isn’t another loosehead in the squad. Logic would dictate that we simply cannot play this lad for 80 minutes of every game until Beast returns in a few months’ time, so it’s vital that Jannie du Plessis or Wiehahn Herbst be given an opportunity to take over from him on the left hand side at some stage during the next two weeks.

In the case of Bismarck, the concern is not so much for the player himself (who we know doesn’t like to be subbed off) but theh welfare of his deputy, Craig Burden. As the only squad member to have played no minutes at all after two rounds, the Sharks would want to avoid the situation where, should Bismarck suddenly break down, their replacement player has no game time at all under his belt as a result of being on the bench for a month.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation and report back on progress in two weeks’ time.


  • The Sharks have more the enough depth to allow the resting of some players. The problem is that, having lost two consecutive games, the management will be under heavy pressure to use the best team, meaning no rest for the top players. This means the best players run the risk of burn out and the bench players don’t get the game time they need. Any word on Beast yet? How is he doing?

    the squirrels steal my mail. i see them.

  • Comment 1, posted at 06.03.12 09:39:02 by Leviathan Reply
  • Rotation will be a key to winning, but there’s fortunately is a break in between… On the other hand players like Bismarck won’t have that break cause they will be playing test rugby

  • Comment 2, posted at 06.03.12 10:13:39 by Franshark Reply
  • Craig Burden needs to get game time as a must. He is definitely not smaller than Chili-Boy and Chili-Boy did really well this past weekend.

    Burden has the ability to give us the spark we need. The Sharks coaches need to realise that we must make use of all of our substitutes (something the Stormers and Bulls do very well) so as to ensure greater squad depth.

    Great article as always Rob. Looking forward to the analysis over the coming weeks.

  • Comment 3, posted at 06.03.12 10:13:46 by StevieS Reply
  • @Franshark (Comment 2) : Even more important to give our test players time off as we’ll need them for the playoffs! 😉

  • Comment 4, posted at 06.03.12 10:17:26 by StevieS Reply
  • Everyone knows the key to super 15 rugby is quality depth.
    We`ve got it . . . why not use it?

  • Comment 5, posted at 06.03.12 11:42:03 by Original Pierre Reply
    Original Pierre
  • For me it is a must that Bissie and Coetzee only play max 60 minutes on saturday, both critically important for our physical game along with Alberts and Deysel. Sykes should probably also be kept as fresh as possible…look what a fresh Sykes did for us last week, was great to see him play that enforcer role to his best again.

    We have the squad, and we must use it….Stormers and Bulls will have a lot more injuries due to fatigue(I believe), eg. muscle injuries and knee sprains, etc than us throughout the season, simply cos i don’t feel they have the same depth as The Sharks eg. just compare a fully fit Sharks 22 squad with Stormers and Bulls. The Sharks bench contains a lot more quality(Players on bench pretty much same quality as those starting if not better on occasions). For this reason the Bulls and Stormers won’t rotate as much as i hope The Sharks do.

    Hopefully the guys working on the comps. and check up on player fatigue give the Sharks coaches the best and most accurate information possible in order to avoid fatigue this season.

    Go Sharks!!!

  • Comment 6, posted at 06.03.12 11:44:51 by JJR Reply
  • @Original Pierre (Comment 5) : Agree, been many 2 seasons so far where Plum has not used the depth of our squad to great effect; but i feel Plum has changed a bit, and will rotate a lot more effectively this season. I mean Herbst over Jannie in on of the most difficult away games? Just shows Plum has changed his thought processes a bit for this season…and i like how’s he is thinking and i like how the team is developing, we should peak at the right time.

    Just need to fix discipline and this Sharks team with the return to fitness of Alberts, Deysel, Beast and Hargreaves have a Champoinship squad. We need to win Superugby!! I know these group of players can do it, team just needs to also be equally focussed on every game and Sharks will have the shot at that title.

  • Comment 7, posted at 06.03.12 11:50:14 by JJR Reply
  • @JJR (Comment 6) : dude! You got rid of the unnecessary caps! Awesome 🙂

  • Comment 8, posted at 06.03.12 11:53:00 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 8) : Ur Comment Has Been Iingering In My Mind, I Don’t Cap Everything Anymore 😆 😉

  • Comment 9, posted at 06.03.12 12:12:31 by JJR Reply
  • @JJR (Comment 9) : :). I really do appreciate it!

  • Comment 10, posted at 06.03.12 12:25:18 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 10) : No problem, i’ve tried not to make that mistake too often; but if i do use the word big i might type “BIG” 🙂

  • Comment 11, posted at 06.03.12 12:31:15 by JJR Reply
  • Player rotation will be key; the players in the squad will all need to be rotated, obviously to spread game time, as said, to keep players physically and mentally fresh, week in week out makes it hard to get psyched for each game. The forwards especially need rotation, as the contacts, collisions and physical demands are far greater than a backline player. Burden needs game time, for him and the team. Bismarck is not the be all and end all, he is a player, and he reports to a Captain and a Coach.

  • Comment 12, posted at 06.03.12 13:01:11 by DarkDestroyer Reply

  • One of the most difficult things for a modern day coaching is the substitution and rotation of players. Gone are the days where you just replace a player only if he is injured. Coaches need to ensure that their benches contain players that can either win them a game from a losing position or wrap up a game from a winning position. Im just not sure the Sharks have exactly the right mix on the bench…and it is specific for each game. Jordaan,McCloed have made a big impact off the bench, but a guy like Joubert off the bench adds little value in my opinion. Burden would offer the same impact as McCloed- i find it crazy he hasnt been used. I am quite worried that our front rows subs in the last 2 weeks has meant that our scrum goes backwards at a rapid rate! Its not an easy job on Plums hands. Its easy for us to say do this and that because there are consequences for us if we get it wrong…its slightly different if Plum gets it wrong.

  • Comment 13, posted at 06.03.12 13:40:43 by SheldonK Reply

  • I Wanna Bee A Simba Chipeee

  • Comment 14, posted at 06.03.12 13:57:26 by Die Kriek Reply


Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.