Written by Morné Nortier (Morné)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 17 Apr 2013 at 13:46
Tagged with : , , , ,

Simple title for a simple principle in the game of rugby; If you cannot get the basics right the most talented player will look dead average”.

Who remembers the 2010 Currie Cup season?  Stupid question to ask on this blog I know so let me be more specific… Who remembers the 2010 Currie Cup season where the Sharks game was likened to that of New Zealand for their continuity and brilliance with ball in hand?

Memories refreshed?  Good.

Now imagine for a second a team being able to play that kind of game the Sharks played in 2010 if they are tackled back, having to work with static, slow ball or unable to cross the advantage line and allowing the defending team to be on the front-foot going forward rather than the attacking team… Not likely hey?  And that ladies and gents is called the simple basics of the game and where the Sharks with all their superstars are being made to look like rookies.

Aaahhh! But you are the bastard that continually tells us that the Sharks coaching or management team is not up to scratch and that they are mentally unprepared… Indeed I am!  But my contention with the Sharks lack of a proper manager and mind-coach has always been that something like that would add the dimension they currently lack from being a champion team in the mould of the Crusaders of old, rather than the perennial bridesmaids they are so well known for – not the criticism that is currently being leveled against them or players like Pat Lambie, Paul Jordaan, Beast, Jannie, etc.

I understand it is frustrating for fans to see such talented players reduced to average plonkers, but we forget so easily how rugby is a team sport reliant on multiple dynamics to be in synch for individuals like those mentioned to shine.

Ever heard the phrase in sport “He has so much time on the ball”?  Simple equation here ladies and gents, is that individuals and players make better decisions the more time they have.  In rugby, you can add the space dynamic where special talents like Lambie and Jordaan quite simply becomes more dangerous the more space they have to weave their magic – add some time to that formula and you will get rugby brilliance.

John Plumtree made mention of the fact that the team really missed players like Deysel and Alberts in the game against the Stormers.  And I know the old Stampkar rugby ideology is much loathed amongst SA supporters but there is a helluva difference between brain-dead Stampkar rugby and winning collisions.

To create momentum and speed on the ball and in plays you have to deny the other team that very thing.  In other words, if you deny opposition defenses time to set and attack the ball in tackle situations by forcing them onto the backfoot you will have more time and create more time with each passing phase for your players to make the magic happen.

You will not win a tackle or collision if you are back-peddling and the other guy is coming at you at 100km/h – similarly, if you gain an extra meter in collisions it is a meter, and two seconds you provide for the next guy who plays the ball.

Rugby is a collision sport, even if there are some pretty faces out there – win those, and you will see momentum rugby or the type of rugby that had all of you in ecstacy in 2010.

To end of and my point with all this; The Sharks or certain players within the Sharks team have not suddenly become poor or average players.  Injuries are a certainty in rugby as tax for you and me, and it is unfortunate that the Sharks are missing some of their most valuable players in order to play the game, and add the dynamic, that will have all of you demand for the whole Sharks backline to be made Boks again!


  • Brilliant read Morne!

  • Comment 1, posted at 17.04.13 13:49:04 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • Any word of when the team will be named?

  • Comment 2, posted at 17.04.13 13:55:39 by David12246 Reply

  • @David12246 (Comment 2) :

    Should be tomorrow.

    There will be a delay as a result of the Bok squad commitments.

  • Comment 3, posted at 17.04.13 13:57:12 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • Always nice to read your stuff Morné. An objective perspective is helpful when emotion is rampant.

  • Comment 4, posted at 17.04.13 14:10:38 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • My biggest worry is that the way to beat the Sharks is painfully obvious. Easily demonstrated by the Brumbies and Stormers this year and by countless others in recent years gone by. How can the Sharks, by this I mean players and management not just fans, say they’re going to win Super rugby this year if these problems haven’t been fixed? Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results and the Sharks look insane to me at the moment.

  • Comment 5, posted at 17.04.13 14:13:14 by war1 Reply
  • I agree with your reasoning that without momentum the Sharks back line will struggle.

    However the Stormers were without heavies such as Etsebeth, Liebenberg and Elstadt and they still won the collisions. The second tier players like Rhodes and Steenkamp came to the party. Following your logic it means that without Alberts, Deysel and Bismarck the Sharks have no one in the pack to get the momentum going?

    I still think that other factors contribute to the momentum problem, e.g. one off runners trying the beat off 3 defenders, slow clearance of the ball from rucks on attack (Sharks seem to slow the game down on purpose when I feel they should speed it up).

  • Comment 6, posted at 17.04.13 14:13:21 by Bokhoring Reply
  • Great article morne!

  • Comment 7, posted at 17.04.13 14:21:34 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 6) :
    I agree with you – especially on the replacements and our attacking play (which was really the point of my article yesterday – we need to adapt to our current lack of go-forward).

    But I think Morne’s point about why some guys look particularly staid is a very goid reminder of why we have the impotence on attack.

  • Comment 8, posted at 17.04.13 14:22:46 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • This is now a Rugby article with a LOT of sense.

  • Comment 9, posted at 17.04.13 14:27:25 by Stef Reply

  • @Bokhoring (Comment 6) : We miss those guys because it is so much harder to win the collisions without them, but no I don’t think we can’t do it without them… we will have to play smarter though and I think that’s where the problem comes in.

    You have smaller guys with less time on the ball and they have no way out but to think on their feet and take the best option.

    I also don’t understand why we are slowing the ball down, when we have the lighter more mobile team. Kanko, Keegan and Marcell should be running onto the ball at speed. I never see that. If they are 10KG lighter than the guy they’re running at they need kinetic energy to effectively increase their weight and their chances of getting through a tackle.

    I don’t know why the Sharks forwards thinks they will be able to get any go forward if the guy defending them are bigger and coming at them at speed, while they are still on their heels readying themselves to move forwards.

  • Comment 10, posted at 17.04.13 14:27:45 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 6) :

    Well you answered it yourself in your post – Stormers second stringers stood up, but their front row, locks and back row with the exception of Rhodes all experienced and know their own and each others games well.

    Jannie is overplayed, Beast coming back from heart condition treatment, new lock combo, players forced out of position in back-row. There is not reason for these players not to stand up and be counted, and they weren’t completely outplayed at a venue very few SA teams win at full strength – Stormers were just better on the day.

  • Comment 11, posted at 17.04.13 14:28:22 by Morné Reply
  • Winning the collisions is a must. And we must protect our ball a lot better at the breakdowns. We are getting slow, crap ball to the backline and not really giving them anything to work with.

  • Comment 12, posted at 17.04.13 14:28:33 by PTAShark Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 8) : I agree 100% that the problem is with lack of momentum. Very few back line players can look good with defenders right in their faces.

    But I also think the Sharks make it unnecessarily difficult for themselves to generate any momentum. Perhaps we have become spoiled relying on big bruisers like Alberts and Deysel, and no have no clue how to get on without them.

  • Comment 13, posted at 17.04.13 14:28:43 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 13) :
    Same page.

  • Comment 14, posted at 17.04.13 14:30:12 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Letgo (Comment 10) :

    But then off course its so much easier running onto a ball, when you already have forward momentum … and I guess that’s where those big guys comes in. They wrestle for a few phases, make meter by meter, even if it is slow and get us on the front foot, and before you know it guys like Keegs and Kanko suddenly has more space and time and Lambie is slipping through a gap.

    No said it was easy to get the upper hand in a rugby game.

    That’s why I still feel, although Frans’ decisions making hasn’t been the best for a while, he still always wins the collision and maybe we could get some front foot ball from there and give Kanko and them some space.

    The one thing that didn’t help was that Frans started losing possession in the contact, even when he was making the meters and then the meters becomes irrelevant.

  • Comment 15, posted at 17.04.13 14:35:39 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Morné (Comment 11) :

    Morne, what do you think of this idea.

    I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here before, but I still think, since our forwards are a little light at this stage that we need to bulk up the backline, starting with Steyn in for Jordaan and Viljoen moving into the vacant fullback spot. It just makes it easier for the backs to get over the advantage line even if they don’t have that much space and then Keegs and kanko can take the gaps and score the tries!

  • Comment 16, posted at 17.04.13 14:36:17 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Letgo (Comment 16) : Not very unlike we did with JP last year (even though it was more forced), until we got Willem and Deysel back.

  • Comment 17, posted at 17.04.13 14:36:57 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Cheetahs have made just one change to their team:

    1. Coenie Oosthuizen, 2. Adriaan Strauss (Capt.), 3. Lourens Adriaanse, 4. Lood de Jager, 5. Francois Uys, 6. Heinrich Brüssow, 7. Lappies Labuschagne, 8. Phillip van der Walt, 9. Piet van Zyl, 10. Burton Francis, 11. Raymond Rhule, 12. Robert Ebersohn, 13. Johann Sadie, 14. Willie le Roux, 15. Hennie Daniller.

    Replacements: 16. Ryno Barnes, 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18. Ligtoring Landman, 19. Frans Viljoen, 20. Tewis de Bruyn, 21. Francois Brummer, 22. Rayno Benjamin.

  • Comment 18, posted at 17.04.13 14:39:54 by KingCheetah Reply

  • @KingCheetah (Comment 18) :
    Helluva team that!

    I have always rated Francis’ skills. Good to see the Cheetahs get the best out of him.

    Just not this weekend please!

  • Comment 19, posted at 17.04.13 14:46:04 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 18) : They brought Coenie back – They know our weakness. Coenie is better than any of our forwards at stealing possession.

  • Comment 20, posted at 17.04.13 14:54:40 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • It would be safer to play a kicking game against them, but then the kicks needs to be spot on. We always struggle against Brussow – probably the one SA team most vulnerable to breakdown specialists.

    We need to win this one even if it is by a single point. It would be nice to score 4 tries, but if Lambie kicks all the points I won’t mind.

    I would either bring Frans back to 12 (or have him on the bench), and have Viljoen at fullback. Frans in his current shape does not work at 15 for me – he is too slow.

  • Comment 21, posted at 17.04.13 15:01:37 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Letgo (Comment 16) :

    Very few times do coaches have the advantage of fielding their strongest possible line up, part of the game. Because of that you need to plan and compensate.

    The planning part of the Sharks concern me and have done so for a long time, it just does not seem if the different levels within the union (from contracting through to U/19, U/21, Vodacom Cup & senior team) – but that is a topic for another time.

    As far as compensating for your weaknesses go it is a combination of gut-feel, player buy-in and game plan.

    The Sharks on Saturday (and for most of this season) did not seem to have a clear plan to upset one or more areas of the Stormers play which surprised me. I know most coaches and players say we play to our own strengths rather than concentrate on the opposition, but when you have your back against it and you are missing vital players, you need to plan against opposition strengths (or weaknesses) and try and exploit that.

    You also don’t want to disrupt players and combinations too much which means you are treading a fine line if you ask a certain player to either play out of position, or play a certain type of game (bashing it up) that he is not used to.

    Rugby is the sum of parts, and I believe the Sharks are just not getting it right in one or two key parts (or areas).

    As an example – Jannie was magnificent last year but the guys is spent as he played almost every minute of every game. Putting him in a role of bench player making an impact in the last 20 or 30min is what I refer to when I mention compensation – it does not mean Herbst is a better tighthead, not at all – but Jannie will serve the team dynamic (and his game) better in such a role.

    Another example – have Frans and Pat switch positions on defence and attack – attack Pat controls play, defence Frans steps up to stop opposition momentum.

    Silly examples but you get my point I hope. Plan it, practice it, and turn your weaknesses into potential strengths.

    But hoping Jannie suddenly finds an ironman power pack to boost his levels is hoping a solution presents itself rather than finding a solution.

  • Comment 22, posted at 17.04.13 15:13:01 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 11) :
    I couldn’t agree more with your article.

    I would add, in my opinion of course, that a side with a dominant pack generating quick ball can mask inadequacies in the backline that are exposed when that dynamic changes and backs are given less time and space. Truly exceptional talents can operate better than their peers when under pressure (physically and mentally) creating that perception that they have “time and space” notwithstanding the situation. This gives them an edge in situations where the battle of the collisions is close to even.

    Based on what I have seen neither of the current centre pairing are “special” talents – good enough to play Super rugby sure – but not special enough to hold their own, or dominate, against quality opposition even when parity is achieved at the collisions. I would love to be proved wrong in time but I believe that Jordaan is a player who stood out as a junior talent but is being exposed by the increased lack of time and space at the senior level. This is obviously exacerbated when the forwards are under pressure.

  • Comment 23, posted at 17.04.13 15:19:46 by steve Reply

  • @Morné (Comment 22) :

    Cheetahs for this weekend as an example.

    Their line-outs are not great, I would spend a lot of time this week just on this one vital area of the game – not just getting your own right, but studying Cheetahs tapes and trying to pick up trends in their calls so you can disrupt this area of play for them.

    Daniller is the slowest fullback in the competition and Rhule is nervous under high balls. The Cheetahs are also compensating for their defensive frailties by rushing up rather quickly from Sadie inwards and both Cheetahs centers are not big on tackling or tackling guys back. Angled stab kicks on attack through the first line of defence for the likes of Jordaan, JP and your other speed merchants or bring Frans in running off Pat or Bosman straight onto Ebersohn’s outside shoulder.

    Point is, it’s no use saying we only concentrate on our game and if that works we will win – you have to make plans to exploit weaknesses and use your team’s own strengths unconventionally to gain the advantage.

  • Comment 24, posted at 17.04.13 15:22:26 by Morné Reply
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 21) :

    Ever noticed Brussow is only effective as an arriving player? I would ensure I get him in the bottom of the ruck as much as I can (instruct carriers to run straight at him so he is forced to tackle and taken out of the game).

  • Comment 25, posted at 17.04.13 15:25:32 by Morné Reply
  • Been fun, but I am off for a while folks.


  • Comment 26, posted at 17.04.13 15:29:36 by Morné Reply
  • @Big Fish (Comment 19) : Lol, yes, I must say Burton has been playing much better than when he was with the Bulls, and Stormers.

    Still going to be a big challenge to topple the Sharks at home.

  • Comment 27, posted at 17.04.13 15:42:37 by KingCheetah Reply


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