It’s not broken (so don’t fix it)

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 17 Jul 2012 at 08:37
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I have this awful flashback going through my mind… the last time the Sharks played a Super Rugby knock-out game in Australia, incumbent coach Dick Muir had a brain fart and ended up picking the Tongan Travesty Epi Taione on the flank.

Those of you who have better therapists than I do probably won’t remember what happened that day and we don’t need to dwell on it – the reality, though, is that Muir panicked and changed a winning combination because the pressure of knock-out rugby got to him. I hope to God that John Plumtree doesn’t do the same this week.

Fact is, that apart from a poor first half against the Cheetahs, the Sharks have looked pretty damn good for 120 of the last 160 minutes they’ve been on the field. The lapse in Durban last week came down to enforced personnel changes, I feel, with the team that started against the Bulls, by and large, the best that the Sharks can field and the one that we should try to stick to as far as possible.

Obviously we’ll have Beast Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis back to start this week – that’s a selection that makes itself. Jannie du Plessis and Anton Bresler must also start, along with the loose trio of Keegan Daniel, Marcell Coetzee and Ryan Kankowski that has been so instrumental in our two most recent wins. The enforced loss of Frans Steyn opens up some midfield permutations, but the half back pair (Charl McLeod and Fred Michalak) and back three (Lwazi Mvovo, JP Pietersen and Louis Ludik) must be retained as is, with last week’s decision to drop Ludik proving to be wrong, in hindsight.

That leaves a single spot at lock and one of the centre positions up for grab (assuming that Tim Whitehead will definitely occupy the other) and it’s here that Plumtree has some interesting choices to make. I’d think that Paul Jordaan would probably have the inside track to start at 13, leaving the number 4 jersey as the big unknown. The major choice I see there is whether to throw Steven Sykes straight back into the fray, or ask Willem Alberts to take one for the team and start at lock. My preference, for this week only, would be the latter given Sykes’ shortage of match fitness.

Here, in other words, is the Sharks team that I would pick for Saturday. Note how little it differs from the one that’s played in the last two weeks:

Possible Sharks:
15 Louis Ludik 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Fred Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jandre Marais, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane


  • I agree 100% with your team. My only condition would be that if things aren’t going well we bring Jacques Botes on. I think we have played our best rugby this year with him on the field and his consistency, reliability and style of play is what you need in a knock out game. I was close to saying he should play instead of Kanko and put Keegan back at 8 but you can’t leave Kankowski out after these last 2 weeks.

  • Comment 1, posted at 17.07.12 08:51:08 by Orelando_G Reply
  • I would rather have Sykes of Jandre slotting in at lock with Bres…leave Willem for impact when needed. Putting him in as lock, will disrupt it, for me.

  • Comment 2, posted at 17.07.12 08:51:17 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • Also agree

  • Comment 3, posted at 17.07.12 08:53:20 by Uli Reply
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    Uli Boelie
  • “Those of you who have better therapists than I do…” Now’s the time to open that Green Label, Rob! That’s all the therapy you need right there…

  • Comment 4, posted at 17.07.12 08:54:17 by Culling Song Reply
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    Culling Song
  • agree 100%.this is a very good team and with this forwards we can put them under ressure from the word go.the backs is also very good and with jordaan at 13, it gives our backline alot of firepower and we will be very dangerous

  • Comment 5, posted at 17.07.12 08:54:31 by jovner Reply

  • @Ice (Comment 2) : good point, I think we have the same chance of winning, either way.

  • Comment 6, posted at 17.07.12 08:54:40 by Uli Reply
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    Uli Boelie
  • I remember that game, Taione couldn’t catch a cold and yet AJ Venter didn’t make the 22 seemingly out of favour due to signing with WP as his contract wasn’t being renewed!
    Barrit was also benched in favour of I think Frans Steyn who had a one of his off days, Barrit’s impact was such that he even had the Aussie commentators wondering why he hadn’t started.

    I’d put Sykes in, my instinct tells me we need the extra cleaner starting, rather than ball carrier.

  • Comment 7, posted at 17.07.12 08:58:50 by neilster Reply

  • I like the team but I’m undecided about Alberts at lock though.

  • Comment 8, posted at 17.07.12 09:00:40 by Pokkel Reply
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  • Rob, did you have to go and spoil a good day by reminding us of Epi Toane? 🙁 Hahaha. I am not a superstitious guy, but for me the one player that can bring us real luck this year is Freddy. He is suppose to be in Toulon, yet he has unfinished business he is first taking care of with the Sharks. I am sure you all remember the previous time he had unfinished business with The Sharks, he came back and helped us win the Currie Cup.

  • Comment 9, posted at 17.07.12 09:02:45 by KingRiaan Reply

  • Rob i posted this team on another thread and yes although its the same team you have, i do differ on the bench, i dont see 2 locks being benched and only 2 backline players on the bench.

    For me the Reds are all about running rugby, so i cant see us leaving the backline a bit thin

  • Comment 10, posted at 17.07.12 09:07:11 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • Good team Rob, a bit in two minds about Alberts aswell, do you start with Sykes or Jandre, Alberts is a bit of a waste on the lock? Then again you only take him out of play when its scrum time, loose play he is still there to break through a few tackles before off loading. I think ill rather put all my cards on the table from now on and choose my best possible players to be on the park, so ill play Alberts on the lock. Its a big game, you only get one chance, Sykes tends to be a big of a loose cannon at times, cant afford unnecessary penalties of yellow cards. Just my opinion!

  • Comment 11, posted at 17.07.12 09:10:19 by pierre_mackie Reply
  • @sharks_lover (Comment 10) :
    Against the reds i would play

    01 Beast
    02 Bissy
    03 Jannie
    04 Sykes/Alberts
    05 Bresler
    06 Keegan
    07 Marcel
    08 Ryan
    09 Mcleod
    10 Fred
    11 Mvovo
    12 Whitehead
    13 Jordaan
    14 JPP
    15 Ludik

    16 Burden
    17 Herbst
    18 Alberts/Sykes
    19 Botes
    20 Reinach
    21 Bosman 10/12
    22 Viljoen/ Odwa, covering 10/11//14/15
    If Sykes is not ready bring in Jandre, he has been very good anyhow,

    Comment 6, posted at 16.07.12 12:00:32 by sharks_lover

  • Comment 12, posted at 17.07.12 09:11:29 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • I would not tinker with the current loose trio. Kanko has been a revelation since his return, and for once the line out looks a lot better – mainly because of him. Faiinga – the Reds hooker is not the best when his jumpers are under pressure. I would also prefer a speedy trio to counteract Gill and co.

    At the same time you need Willem on the field for as long as possible – so I would go with him at 4 lock. Sykes has been a bit off the boil before his injury anyway.

  • Comment 13, posted at 17.07.12 09:23:31 by Bokhoring Reply
  • But it does not matter which team is selected. We need the one with the attitude and commitment against the Bulls, not the one which showed up for the Lions and 1st half of Cheetah game

  • Comment 14, posted at 17.07.12 09:41:02 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 14) : 100% agreed

  • Comment 15, posted at 17.07.12 10:17:28 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Remember that day all too clearly Rob.

    Didnt he also pick a young and very green Frans Steyn over the ever dependable Barrit for that game as well?

    Dicky made a couple of mammoth errors in judgement that game.

  • Comment 16, posted at 17.07.12 10:56:59 by John Galt Reply

    John Galt
  • Muir has a history of brain farts… some bigger than others

  • Comment 17, posted at 17.07.12 14:02:45 by lostfish Reply
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  • @John Galt (Comment 16) : FRans wasn’t young and tender 2008 after he played the 2007 WC. The problem was that Steyn was used at 13/15/10 all season never at 12 and then suddenly Barrit is dropped… although I can’t remember Barrit being dropped. Just Epi’s Red card. Was that in the semi’s?

  • Comment 18, posted at 17.07.12 14:21:36 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 18) : The red card wasn’t that game, he had just returned from his suspension and Yes Barrit was subbed.

  • Comment 19, posted at 17.07.12 14:23:19 by Letgo Reply
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  • That was the season where both Steyn and Ruan was messed around the backline.

    Steyn played the first game at 10
    The the next 3 at 15
    Then 2 back at 10
    Then 4 games at 13
    Then 3 at 12 before getting injured and then playing the semi at 12.

    Ruan played 2 games at 9 before getting an injury.
    Rory played 3.
    Ruan subbed him for 4 before falling out of favor.
    Rory played the last 6.
    Ruan was benched for 3 games before Fred got injured.
    Ruan played 4 games including the semi’s at 10.


    Waylon and Barrit played the first 10 games as a combo at 12/13.

    We won 8 of these 10 games, 1 draw, 1 loss.

    Then Waylon was dropped for Steyn.

  • Comment 20, posted at 17.07.12 14:56:24 by Letgo Reply
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  • That Backline never had a chance to settle.

  • Comment 21, posted at 17.07.12 14:58:07 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 21) : pretty much

  • Comment 22, posted at 17.07.12 15:03:28 by Uli Reply
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    Uli Boelie
  • Again great article Rob!!!

    I would prefer Marais at 4 to reward his form over past 2 games…Alberts is such a great impact player

  • Comment 23, posted at 17.07.12 15:13:54 by pienaar111 Reply

  • @Letgo (Comment 18) :
    He was very young and green in 2008 boet.
    Just because he played in the WC doesnt mean he wasnt.

    He’s also the one that missed the conversion in the S14 final in 2007 remember. And failed to boot it into touch.

    And yes you’re right it was Murray, sorry, not Barrit.
    They had played brilliantly all season together and then Dick made the mistake of breaking the partnership for a semi, in Sydney.
    Not clever.

  • Comment 24, posted at 17.07.12 16:03:42 by John Galt Reply

    John Galt
  • @John Galt (Comment 24) :Young he was, but I dont think he could be called green after playing 2 seasons of Super 14 rugby, a Super 14 and world cup final. That is more than most professional players will do in a lifetime of rugby.

  • Comment 25, posted at 17.07.12 16:27:17 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @John Galt (Comment 24) : @John Galt (Comment 24) : You can blame the coaching staff for taking off the team kicker (Monty), the captain (Smit) and then the lack of leadership from the on field captain (AJ) for letting Steyn take that kick instead of Butch.

  • Comment 26, posted at 17.07.12 16:27:21 by lostfish Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 20) : that was also the year when we started out with Tim Goodenough as mental coach (winning all our games with him in the picture) only to inexplicably fail to send him on tour (to save money). It all fell apart at that point.

    I honestly believe we WOULD have won the competition in 2008 if we’d kept Tim involved

  • Comment 27, posted at 17.07.12 16:56:33 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 27) : and it has been a shambles ever since.

  • Comment 28, posted at 17.07.12 17:21:49 by lostfish Reply
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  • @lostfish (Comment 26) : Monty was probably concussed after Habana blatantly ran his legs out from under him while Monty was fielding a high kick. Walsh did not have the cohones to yellow card Brian for that one. That changed the whole game for me.

  • Comment 29, posted at 17.07.12 17:49:12 by Bokhoring Reply

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