Loose forwards the missing puzzle piece

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 20 Feb 2013 at 10:31
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , ,

When Sharks coach John Plumtree sits down to pick his team for Saturday’s Super Rugby opener in Bloemfontein, He probably won’t have to scratch his head much at all. The tight five and entire back line, with the possible exception of the scrumhalf position, appear to be relatively simple to pick. Loose forward, however, presents a different challenge altogether.

It’s ironic that, in some ways, the injuries to Keegan Daniel and Willem Alberts may have made Plumtree’s life a little easier in that he now has fewer potential combinations to consider – and fewer hard conversations to have with senior players about match 22 omission. While the likes of Francois Kleinhans and Tera Mtembu add sorely-needed depth at this point, we have to be honest that Plumtree is unlikely to field either of them in his squad at this stage, opting to rather pick from Jacques Botes, Jean Deysel, Marcell Coetzee and Ryan Kankowski.

There is one proviso, though – if Kankowksi is deemed to not be quite ready for Super Rugby action, then the coach might opt to give Mtembu a bench spot this week. The fact that the former played such a key role in the Sharks lineout last year, coupled with the loss of other back-ball jumpers in Daniel and Alberts, might lead the coach to decide that he can’t do without Kankowski – or perhaps even an out-and-out lineout man such as Pieter-Steph du Toit – among his loose forward contingent for the game.

Botes is probably a safe pick for the number 6 jersey, since I’m not convinced that the Sharks necessarily consider Coetzee a natural fit in that position. The veteran’s great pre-season form should also swing selection his way and if any of the loose trio positions can be considered cut and dried at this stage, I’d say Botes’ selection is the closest to a given. Much then will depend on Kankowski. If he’s deemed fit to start, then he will, of course, be at 8, leaving a straight choice between Deysel and Coetzee for the blindside role. The former’s perceived specialisation in that position could see him win out, with Coetzee’s versatility being used off the bench. That said, if Kankowski is not going to start (or play at all), then Coetzee must be a good pick to start at 8.

My prediction is that Plumtree won’t tinker much (actually, at all) with the side that started in Nelspriut, meaning a starting trio of Botes, Deysel and Coetzee. Expect to see du Toit and Kankowski both on the bench, with the former officially covering lock, but perhaps also useful as a bashing option at blindside should Deysel tire after an hour.


  • I agree with the Botes, Deysel and Coetzee combo. Strong guys and we know the Cheetahs likes to be physical up front.

  • Comment 1, posted at 20.02.13 10:34:31 by PTAShark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • So here are my thoughts:

    I am confident we could play Deysel ,Coetzee and Kanko together as we’ve never had an out and out fetcher to choose from .Our 8/6 players like Keegan/Coetzee play a link role more than the role of an openside in the traditional sense of the term.

    Secondly ,I feel that if we had to choose between PSDT ,Kleinhans and Mthembu we should choose the brightest prospect so that that player can get as much game time exposure as possible, this would be Du Toit. He adds a line-out option as well as loose forward cover.

  • Comment 2, posted at 20.02.13 10:53:44 by Talent Reply
  • I must say that Botes has also always been one of the most influential impact players for the sharks, so no matter which way we go, we will be fine.

  • Comment 3, posted at 20.02.13 11:19:33 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • my view is that these next few games might even be last-chance salooon for Deysel. He needs to show the sort of imperious form that made him an automatic pick – and a Springbok – a few years ago, rather than just another overplayed and permanently injured battering ram.

  • Comment 4, posted at 20.02.13 11:20:12 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 4) : Agreed

  • Comment 5, posted at 20.02.13 11:24:43 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • @robdylan (Comment 4) : And lately a pretty ineffective battering ram too.

  • Comment 6, posted at 20.02.13 11:34:30 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 4) : Deysel just needs to learn to run onto the ball at pace, and into gaps, rather than trying to impress with his standing start, “Me Hulk! Hulk smash!” hand-offs. Now what is so hard about that?

  • Comment 7, posted at 20.02.13 12:19:23 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • did anyone see this headline,
    “Ref Cam set to make it’s Super
    Rugby debut”apparently the refs r going to wear head cams

  • Comment 8, posted at 20.02.13 12:28:42 by clarkville Reply

  • @Culling Song (Comment 7) : Forwards skills coach – my vote: Keegan Daniel.

    Imagine if big boys like Deysel and Alberts played with the skills and savvy of Keegan? You’ll have loosies cutting through the defensive lines all day long.

  • Comment 9, posted at 20.02.13 12:32:32 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 4) : i agree and dont forget that it has become a problem in SA rugby (or has it been that way for a while) the standing start run which makes you go backwards. Running onto balls is what makes the kiwis so good. That and offloads and backing the ball carrier up

  • Comment 10, posted at 20.02.13 12:33:16 by Dunx Reply


Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.