The last man standing

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 19 Apr 2012 at 08:11
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After two weeks of Super Rugby, we promised to keep tabs on how the Sharks were doing in terms of player management, with the goal being to avoid the situation where key players break down due to overuse – one of the factors that derailed the side in last year’s tournament.

At that stage, we identified 7 players who had played every minute of the first two games and were somewhat dismayed to find after 4 weeks that, bar JP Pietersen who subsequently picked up an injury, all of the same players continued to be played for 80 minute each game. It’s therefore not completely surprising to discover that many of these same players are the ones that have started to pick up injuries along the way.

Bismarck du Plessis played every minute of the first 6 games, before picking up an injury that limited his involvement since then to just 14 minutes. Marcell Coetzee soldiered on bravely through 5 complete games too, before being subbed off in the last 3 for a total of 563 minutes out of a possible 640. He is, of course, now in doubt with a shoulder problem too. Pat Lambie missed two complete games due to injury, but has played the full 80 in 6 others, for a total of 480 minutes game time. Pietersen, despite also missing out on two appearances, is not far behind on 473 minutes, meaning he has been replaced only once in the 6 games he has started, for a grand total of 7 minutes.

Of the men that soldier on, though, Dale Chadwick and Keegan Daniel must surely both be close to the point of total mental fatigue, if not also at risk of some-or-other physical injury after playing virtually every minute of the first 8 rounds. Chadwick has racked up 617 minutes (just 23 minutes rest) and Daniel 622 (18 minutes) out of the total of 640 played in these first 8 rounds. Spare a thought, though, for the last man standing, Lwazi Mvovo, who has played every single one of those 640 minutes.

Other players to have accumulated big game time so far include Tim Whitehead (544 minutes and now under an injury cloud), Riaan Viljoen (592 minutes) and Steven Sykes (520).


  • I believe with a good mental coach, even with the amount of time these guys spend on the field, we would’ve seen far less injuries. The guys are breaking down mentally, which is opening the door to physical pain

  • Comment 1, posted at 19.04.12 08:18:12 by Die Kriek Reply
  • It’s all very well and good to insist on player rotation, but in certain positions such as flyhalf currently for the Sharks, there is just no alternative to the number one choice. Well of course there is always the option of playing someone else, but it doesn’t help in terms of producing winning results! I’m afraid that the Sharks are very much in that position at the moment in terms of selecting Pat Lambie at 10.

  • Comment 2, posted at 19.04.12 09:07:55 by Greg Reply
  • If Mvovo worked harder he could get injured 😈

  • Comment 3, posted at 19.04.12 09:17:07 by JarsonX Reply
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  • Rob, you have to remember that Lambie didn’t get injured because his body was fatigued, neither did Pieterson, or Whitehead. Marcell was played after he picked up a niggle and that’s where I think the trouble comes in. They need to be able to know when an injury needs some time to heal.

    Obviously the more you play the greater your chances are for picking up niggles and the more niggles you have the greater your chances are of getting injured, but Keegan, Mvovo, and the others may just be fine.

    I don’t know, based on how many times we’ve lost players for a week or two, it seems like the players are getting selected just one game to many. Now we may have to play without Bissie for three weeks, if they gave him a unforced rest earlier it may just have been one.

    It’s hard to say without all the evidence, but sayings something like a player plays through all sorts of niggles all the time is not a good sign.

  • Comment 4, posted at 19.04.12 11:17:55 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 4) : I couldn’t agree more with that last statement of yours, Letgo… the fact that we have two great young hookers just ACHING for game time – not to mention a gruelling international season coming up – makes it frankly criminal to play Bismarck when he’s injured.

  • Comment 5, posted at 19.04.12 11:30:38 by robdylan Reply
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