Richard Ferguson

Where to from here?

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 11 Apr 2012 at 09:00
Tagged with : , , , , ,

The Sharks have managed to yet again start a season poorly, with three wins from seven games, and even though five of those have been away games, they have found themselves in the position to win at least three, if not four of those away games. A lot has been said over the last few days, from missing links and captaincy issues, to who a new coach possibly could be. I am not disagreeing with any of that, I am venturing into the possibility of a short term solution.

The question I find myself with is, “What would I have done if I were John Plumtree?” Now each of us has our own ideas, from playing Paul Jordaan to dropping Keegan and giving the captaincy to Bismarck. All those ideas are valid and it is what you would have done had you been in charge. Would the Sharks have won in that case? Who knows, but in your mind, it would have been better, but I digress.

The reality of the situation is that the Sharks have nine games left in the season, of which six are at home, and could still make an impression on this competition. No drastic changes will take place between now and the end of the season, and we are left hoping and holding our collective breaths that somehow things will get better. The big question is, how?

In my opinion, drastic changes in personnel and positions will not be the right way to go. Making ten changes to the team will do more harm than good, and we really cannot afford to go making too many changes, as we do not have real experienced backup to call on. From what I have seen on the park, we have found a few gems in certain players, and some combinations are working really well. The idea must now be to get those little things that are not working, out of our play.

Looking at the team, there is not much that can be done to our current tight five, with injuries hampering key players such as Tendai Mtawarira and our best lock Ross Skeate. Those two players are not only key in terms of playing ability, but their leadership ability on the park that is currently missing as they have been replaced by rookies Dale Chadwick and Jandre Marais, two players that have done their utmost best, but cannot fill the leadership, experience and cool headedness gaps.

In our loose trio, we are finally fully stocked in terms of having both Jean Deysel and Willem Alberts at our disposal, with the only missing link being Ryan Kankowski. Considering his poor form at the start of the season, one has to wonder how much worse the Sharks would have been had he been fit, as Marcell Coetzee would surely have missed out to accommodate him.

Moving onto the backline, the coaches have made the necessary change by playing Charl McLeod ahead of Fred Michalak at scrumhalf, a positive change in my mind, and had it not been for the Lambie injury, I doubt Fred would have seen much more than ten minutes at the end of each game. Unfortunately, he has been called on to play in a position that he has clearly not been training in, and this has let the team down. The reality is that the Sharks do not possess a flyhalf that can step into Lambie’s boots should the young player need a break, or heaven forbid, pick up a long term injury.

On a positive note, the find of the season has to be not only Tim Whitehead, but his combination with JP Pietersen. Their interplay is fantastic, defensively we have seen very few leaks and we finally have centres that are breaking the line, every game! The unfortunate thing is that it does not matter that Whitehead broke the line three times against the Hurricanes, because firstly, he had no support or player on his shoulder to which he could offload, and secondly, the technique used in our rucking to get the ball back once he was tackled, is illegal and not coached well enough, and the ball is ultimately lost.

Moving on to our back three, another positive is the form and ability of Riaan Viljoen, who has added something to the Sharks backline that we haven’t seen in a while, which is the ability to come into the line and attack, combined with his skills under the high ball, is a good find for the men in black.

My biggest concern in the current setup is the distinct lack of a succession plan after the likes of John Smit and Stefan Terblanche left the Sharks. What should happen in the case of Keegan Daniel going down and with Bismarck already out this is not an unlikely scenario, who would take the reigns? Ill-discipline has cost the Sharks a few games in the current tournament, and is something that not only the players should look at, but also the coaches. A player cannot be blamed for not doing something properly, if he has not been coached to do something properly.

All in all, this is not a happy article asking us to back our boys, and it is not an article stating that we should all give up hope on the boys, I will leave that to the other writers. It’s an overall look from a pretty unbiased perspective of what exactly is wrong, and right, at the Sharks.


  • Why in the world do we not have a defensive coach? We’re getting killed on counter attacks.

  • Comment 1, posted at 11.04.12 09:02:33 by PTAShark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • defensive coach, defensive coach, defensive coach. defensive coach!

  • Comment 2, posted at 11.04.12 09:14:57 by Uli Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    Uli Boelie
  • @Uli (Comment 2) : And allow me to add: defensive coach, defensive coach, defensive coach defensive coach & mental coach, mental coach, mental coach mental coach!

  • Comment 3, posted at 11.04.12 09:37:17 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • @Uli (Comment 2) : cause Plum thinks he can do it all and doesn’t need help, hence he must go.

  • Comment 4, posted at 11.04.12 09:40:33 by GreatSharksays Reply

  • Number 1: Mental coach
    Number 2: Defensive coach

    It astounds me to think that we have JP, HRE and GB as our only coaches. Bulls and Stormers have a compliment of 7 each.

  • Comment 5, posted at 11.04.12 09:41:30 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @GreatSharksays (Comment 4) :

    I dont agree with what you are saying here..

    In fact, I think you have it completely wrong.

    Plum is the only coach that I know that will contact ex players and coaches, like Mark Andrews, David Campese etc for input. It is not up to Plum to appoint these coaches.

  • Comment 6, posted at 11.04.12 09:45:12 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • @King Shark (Comment 5) : I agree completely although maybe I’d put defense coach as priority number 1.

    Plum will have to guide the team until the end of the comp but if I was Brian van Zyl I’d be calling in favours to get a coach like Nick Mallett into the structures to take over after that looking forward to next year. The worst thing we can do is to dump our coach now, especially as the bottom team will be dumped out of the comp.

    In terms of the team, the only changes I would make is for Beast to come back. I’d prefer to let Jandre Marais grow into the role. And then in the substitutions I’d dump MJ right down to club rugby (but I think I’ve made my views on this site clear about this).

  • Comment 7, posted at 11.04.12 10:00:52 by Butchie34 Reply
  • Let’s face it. We are not gonna get a new captain, new coaches, nor additional coaches, right now anyway. What the boys need to do from their side is to start playing for the jersey and for eaxh other…that already would make a big difference imho.

  • Comment 8, posted at 11.04.12 10:04:48 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @King Shark (Comment 5) : I sometimes think Plumtree is a menatl coach 😎

  • Comment 9, posted at 11.04.12 10:08:44 by Scott B Reply
    The Hobbit
  • I don’t know when last I said it but let me just make the point again.

    Plum is not a bad coach, hell I rate him on technical coaching ability as one of the better ones out there.

    But he is no head coach. The recipe for success in modern rugby seems to be out there for everyone to see in a SA context.

    Get a decent DOR to manage the coaches. Heyneke had this at the Bulls, Rassie at the Stormers.

    Perhaps it is not a case of ‘missing’ anything in this team, but rather a case of bringing it all together.

    Get someone to do that.

  • Comment 10, posted at 11.04.12 10:15:40 by Morné Reply
  • 😈 Plum should field the team he wants to, not what makes financial sense. Freddie costs a bundle and should leave soon, but Bosman showed that he upped his game. Plum should not be forced to play a man because of the invoice.
    Discipline needs to be stepped up with serious consequences (maybe financial) for players who infringe in a stupid fashion. I am sure that plum would rather field the Beast than a Chadwick, but the pickings are slim right now.
    In the positions where we have fit and enough players, there is good competition for the jersey, while the others are too relaxed because they are so assured.
    Keegan tries to keep the discipline, but the senior guys lend little support. I remember the op**k we got on Monday when we dropped a game on Saturday (from school to senior rugby) and that was a real attitude adjustment while lifting the fitness levels. Everyone cursed the coach which in turn pulled the team together. Plum should try a good old op**k from time to time – maybe?? 😈

  • Comment 11, posted at 11.04.12 10:25:04 by KILLER SHARK Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
  • @Scott B (Comment 9) : 😈 I have always liked that little “S” of the flashers. Sorry that S is missing. Nice avatar. 😈

  • Comment 12, posted at 11.04.12 10:27:03 by KILLER SHARK Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
  • @Morné (Comment 10) : 😈 You have got something there. Agreed. 😈

  • Comment 13, posted at 11.04.12 10:34:09 by KILLER SHARK Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
  • Sharks priority list:

    1: Mental Coach
    2: Defence Coach
    3: New Backline Coach (If the addition of 1&2 fail to win a trophy)
    4: New Forwards Coach (Same as 3)
    5: New Head Coach (If 1-4 Fail)
    6: Francois Hougaard (Can be moved up the order if he becomes available earlier)

  • Comment 14, posted at 11.04.12 10:34:31 by Die Kriek Reply

  • while you’re all looking for coaches, get an attack/strategy coach! i have never ever seen mvovo run angles off a sharks’ set-piece move or the shark destroying a team like the crusaders did to the sharks at Twickenham last year.

    even the Chiefs have found an attacking edge when they employed wayne smith who is one of the best backline minds in the world.

  • Comment 15, posted at 11.04.12 10:55:13 by Megatron Reply

  • @Megatron (Comment 15) : but mostly he has changed their defensive strategy and it has paid dividends as the chiefs have conceded the least tries in the comp and are 2nd behind the stormers in the least points conceded column…

    richard kahui on their defence (can you say this about the sharks):
    While the Cheetahs open pattern of play might present the Chiefs with some attacking opportunities of their own, Smith is not interested in joining in the run-it-from-everywhere approach.

    “You don’t want to turn it into a festival match, because I think there would be only one winner if that happens.

    “If we can play really well defensively then that will help our attack more than them opening up.”

    The emphasis this week in the Chiefs camp at their Johannesburg base is on getting the same accuracy and urgency into their attack as their defence after an error-ridden attacking effort against the Force last Friday night in Perth.

    “They’re the same principles in many ways and we’ve just got to do that better,” he said.

    Smith is loving the chance to get back into coaching in a weekly competition and said, though he had changed some systems when he first came on board, it was the uptake of the players and their will to get up off the ground repeatedly to make tackles that was proving the major ingredient of their success.

    Centre Richard Kahui said he was enjoying working with Smith on defence from the planning to its implementation.

    “We’ve grown a lot since pre-season with some of the different ideas Smithy’s brought to the Chiefs and I think the boys are really starting to grow and take it on board.

    “Like Smithy says, probably 40 per cent of it is probably system and the other 60 per cent is will and desire and working hard for each other.

    “Guys have made a commitment to each other to work hard and they’re doing it every week so if we can keep doing that that’s halfway towards winning a championship. We’ve just got to get the other side of the ball right now.”

    Kahui said while the Chiefs in 2009 had gone on a six-game winning streak on the way to reaching the Super Rugby final for the first time, they had done that differently from the 2012 team’s current five-match run of victories.

    “We certainly scored a lot of points in 2009 but didn’t stop too many.

    “We’ve got an opportunity to win another game this week and keep our run, keep pushing towards the finals.

    “Everyone here has been working pretty hard. We’d love to go 10 or 12 or however many in a row we’ve got left but every week it takes a lot of work and a lot of dedication right from the planning and the playing itself.”

  • Comment 16, posted at 11.04.12 11:40:00 by Megatron Reply

  • @Megatron (Comment 16) : why not try an article..? Might as well.. 😆

  • Comment 17, posted at 11.04.12 11:53:01 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @Megatron (Comment 16) : @Ice (Comment 17) : I’ll second this request.

  • Comment 18, posted at 11.04.12 12:40:29 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Ice (Comment 17) : ek het nie di tyd 🙄 😆

  • Comment 19, posted at 11.04.12 12:41:48 by Megatron Reply

  • @Megatron (Comment 19) : Make the time and consider it your good deed for the day! Come one Megatron, getting some non-Sharks opinions on our current state of affairs will surely make for some interesting debate.

  • Comment 20, posted at 11.04.12 14:02:21 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @vanmartin (Comment 20) : ok, ok…will do. 🙁

  • Comment 21, posted at 11.04.12 14:18:18 by Megatron Reply

  • @Megatron (Comment 21) : looking forward to it 🙂

  • Comment 22, posted at 11.04.12 14:50:23 by Scott B Reply
    The Hobbit
  • @Megatron (Comment 21) : @Scott B (Comment 22) : Thank you, I’m looking forward to it too!

  • Comment 23, posted at 11.04.12 15:38:02 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author

Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.