Big Fish

Is there still place for Alberts?

Written by (Big Fish)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 30 Apr 2013 at 11:43

A chat I had with a well-respected rugby guru and socialite raised an interesting question; given the amount of time that Willem Alberts spends on the sidelines, is there value is extending his contract?

After all, not only does he miss a fair bit of rugby due to Springbok commitments, but every season he spends a fair amount of time on the side-lines, nursing an injury. In addition, the Sharks have a surfeit of loose trio talent in Keegan Daniel, Ryan Kankowski, Marcel Coetzee, Jean Deysel (all Springboks) and the rapidly emerging Terra Mthembu. Add to that already impressive list the claims of Pieter-Stef du Toit as a blindsider, and the Young Turks in the form of guys like Francois Kleynhans and Bryanrd Stander, and there does seem to be rather a problem in fitting the available talent into just a few spots in the Super Rugby squad.

Alberts  is certainly a commanding presence on the field, with his powerful drives generally guaranteeing momentum over the advantage line, and his bone-crunching tackles often halting the opposition in their tracks, and leaving them a little more hesitant about the next carry around the fringes. He also seems to add a solid core of stability when he is on the field – perhaps not quite captaincy material, but certainly the kind of guy to help settle the nerves of his team-mates in crunch situations; even if just by his reassuringly mountainous presence on the field.

On the flip-side, Alberts has often been at the core of the depressingly predictable game plan employed by the Sharks in recent years. For anyone who has been on the moon for the last few seasons, it works something like this; pass the ball to Alberts (or sometimes Bismark, Deysel or Beast); said personage drives forward until they are brought to ground; forwards form a ruck; scrumhalf arrives; repeat ad nauseam. Oh yes – backline waits until they have to tackle or chase an up-and-under.

It is probably the nature of this staid game-plan that has not only limited the amount of tries (and bonus points) scored by the Sharks, but also led to the inordinate amount of time that the above ball-carriers have spent injured. And of course, it is no wonder that whenever any of these guys are injured, the Sharks immediately experience an alarming drop-off in performance. And it’s really this that leads me to lay the blame for this on the coaching staff.

I think that it is the coaches who must be taken to task for pretty much bringing the golden goose to the edge of death by having a huge over-reliance on ball-carriers on the team. Of course resource are there to be used in advancing the team cause, but we have abused the talents of Alberts, Beast, Bismark and Deysel (and to a lesser extent Coetzee, du Toit and Cooper) by always looking at them as a means of crossing the advantage line by the most direct means possible, as opposed to adopting a more nuanced approach (such as the pod system employed by the Bulls or more creative running lines and options). Every game involves these men bravely throwing themselves into multiple tacklers and single-mindedly wrestling themselves over the advantage line, and for all the will and straining thews that are brought to bear, there is a price to pay.

In my opinion, the Sharks have now been forced to stumble upon a more balanced gameplan and to use the entire XV in a more creative manner and this bodes good not only for future results, but also for the sustainability of the aforementioned ball-carriers. We will extend the useful service of our players, as well as pose a greater challenge to our opposition if we use all our players and all our various attacking abilities when we take them on, as we saw for 60 minutes against the Chiefs; and that is why I am still hopeful for the Sharks.

As for how this impacts our player resources, I think better management of our strike-runners, coupled with a more comprehensive approach, will see them spend less time on the sidelines. For now, I think the Sharks should look at revolving Kankowski, Daniel and Mthembu at 8, with Alberts, Coetzee and Deysel making up the 6/7 positions.


  • Bottom line. You need the big guys but just use them more intelligently.

  • Comment 1, posted at 30.04.13 11:53:58 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • Deysel has been injured as much over the last few years. You need to keep a guy like Alberts on the books, just rotate him and Deysel to keep them both healthy.

  • Comment 2, posted at 30.04.13 11:55:31 by rumblo Reply
  • Good read as always D.

    As for the headline question, my thoughts on the matter are controversial. Willem Alberts has been a stalwart at times, but we can hardly afford to keep him only to see half a match twice a season.

    You raise valid points in that the player cannot be blamed for his own over-use, but if things at the top do not change, and we are stuck in this mould of bash-it-up rugby, it does not bode well for Alberts, or even Deysel and Coetzee. They will always be broken, only for us to have to find another player who can hold his own for a few games.

  • Comment 3, posted at 30.04.13 11:58:27 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 3) : Spot on.

  • Comment 4, posted at 30.04.13 11:59:32 by Uli Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    Uli Boelie
  • As for Alberts extending his stay with the Sharks, I am split.

    My initial answer is No. We have some great players coming through, maybe not in exactly the same mould as Alberts, but Kleinhans and Stander, maybe even Majola after them, will have to get game time at some point. A fit Alberts will always be in the starting line-up, but who will our coach play with him. You mentioned a balance trio, but with Deysel and Coetzee in there, with Daniel (captain) is it really balanced?

    A lot will depend on the goings on after this season, whether Kankowski stays in Durban and what exactly Botes does going forward. Should Kankowski stay, I can only see Alberts ever playing on the flank (where he should) and that will leave a single spot for Daniel, Coetzee, Deysel, Botes, Kleinhans.

    Yes it is a long season, and you’d want proper back-up, but what use is all that depth if it constantly injured?

  • Comment 5, posted at 30.04.13 12:05:49 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
  • It comes down to rotation, we need both Alberts and Deysel and maybe another. They are the type of players that get injured and become less effective when over played. We never moan when it works, only when the player has been played into the ground and is not firing at all cylinders

  • Comment 6, posted at 30.04.13 12:11:20 by Tintin Reply

  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 5) : I don’t think we should let Albert ever go. Yes there are others around but none in the same mold though. I think the team selection should be done more cleverly.

  • Comment 7, posted at 30.04.13 12:11:42 by Uli Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    Uli Boelie
  • Agree with Uli. Should never let him go. Even if he is used as an impact player. Like he was used on EOYT a couple years back. Think he could be huge at the end of a game wen opponents are tired. Just my opinion

  • Comment 8, posted at 30.04.13 12:25:11 by sharkbok Reply

  • Simple answer………… If we don’t need him someone else sure as hell will need him, DO WE WANT HIM PLAYING FOR US OR AGAINST US????

  • Comment 9, posted at 30.04.13 12:30:42 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Fact is Alberts would not have been out this long had he not been asked to continue for the Bok test series last year, and only after that did he get a chance for the OP.

    rugby is a hard game, there will always be injuries and if we get in the mindset that we do not need someone because he has had injuries?? well?? we could be playing with no players at all.


    Oh hell the list goes on, and no matter the Stars name I type??? they have all had their share of injuries

    Lets not forget BUTCH……………..

  • Comment 10, posted at 30.04.13 12:37:19 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Eish Botes and Kanko and and and

  • Comment 11, posted at 30.04.13 12:38:12 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • Keep him! Just manage the loosies better.

  • Comment 12, posted at 30.04.13 12:41:14 by PTAShark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 5) : I cannot agree re Alberts.

    there are only 2 7 flanks at the Sharks that can be considered hard men Alberts and Deysel

    The Likes of Daniels and Botes and Kanko will always only shine when they have the likes of Deysel and Alberts doing the hard work and smashing defenses back

  • Comment 13, posted at 30.04.13 12:42:27 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • Like I said we can let him go. IF WE WANT TO BE IDIOTS OF COURSE.

    Question still needs to be answered then, will we want him against us when we play the Bulls or the Stormers?? for example??

  • Comment 14, posted at 30.04.13 12:43:52 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Our current game plan is built around Alberts providing momentum and we seem a bit lost without him. I think he could still add a lot of value even if the plan is modified.

    He just needs to be managed properly. With these extra long competitions you need a lot of depth – especially in the forward dept given the battering the guys take.

    I would rather go on about the lack of decent fetchers in the Sharks setup. Deysel and Bismark are useful in close combat, but neither has the speed to slow down oppo ball when the game is fast and played with width.

  • Comment 15, posted at 30.04.13 12:44:57 by Bokhoring Reply
  • I think that the better question would be: Do you want to see Alberts run out against us?

    I think not.

  • Comment 16, posted at 30.04.13 12:47:05 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 15) : I’d like us to buy Francois Louw and bring him back to SA.

  • Comment 17, posted at 30.04.13 12:47:50 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @King Shark (Comment 17) : If you ready through my posts, that’s exactly what I asked. No way in hell we want him or a Bismark playing against us

    To name but a few.

  • Comment 18, posted at 30.04.13 12:49:47 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • @sharks_lover (Comment 18) : Skipped the comments initially – anxious to post! 😉

  • Comment 19, posted at 30.04.13 12:56:48 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @sharks_lover (Comment 14) : Eloquently put. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 20, posted at 30.04.13 12:58:59 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @King Shark (Comment 20) : 😉 😆

  • Comment 21, posted at 30.04.13 13:12:46 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • I cant believe some of the posts Im reading here. Including the article itself.

    One of the only reasons the Sharks have been so good in the last few seasons is because of 2 players, Bismark and Alberts.
    The go forward ball he gets is second to none.

    The only way those other loosies even get a mention is because they are able to play off the big guy.

    Look at the relatively poor season Kanko, Keegan, Coetzee etc have been having so far this season. Coincidence.
    Not a fuck.
    Its because the big fella hasn’t been there to provide the go forward for the other guys to play off.

    He is indispensable.

  • Comment 22, posted at 30.04.13 13:51:20 by John Galt Reply

    John Galt
  • Deysel is the only other blind sider who also gets go forward and he is also often injured.

    The best and most balanced Loose trio we had was with Keegan at 6, Alberts at 7 and Kanko at 8. That’s when we were winning CC’s etc.
    Last year the trio of Coetzee, Keegan and Kanko performed particularly well toward the end of the season because Alberts at the time was playing 4 and achieving all the momentum with Bissie.
    Cancel that momentum and that lighter loose trio will get bossed all day long.

  • Comment 23, posted at 30.04.13 13:55:45 by John Galt Reply

    John Galt
  • Any flanker in world rugby thrown into the role that Alberts fills will suffer from injury therefore the Sharks need to manage his workload better so that he remains fit. I’d definitely hold onto him because as some of you have commented I’d rather have him in our side than playing against us

  • Comment 24, posted at 30.04.13 14:07:21 by slammerboy Reply
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  • @John Galt (Comment 22) : Exactly John, like I said too,

  • Comment 25, posted at 30.04.13 15:52:09 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • What I can’t believe is that some people actually read (or is that perhaps understood? ) the article. 🙄

  • Comment 26, posted at 30.04.13 16:05:41 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 26) : so who was the well-respected socialite, then?

  • Comment 27, posted at 30.04.13 16:41:21 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Need Alberts .

    Need good forward momentum.

    Need the “brainless bashing up” he does.

  • Comment 28, posted at 30.04.13 18:16:59 by Talent Reply
  • Is it just me, or are people seriously misunderstanding the intent of this article…?

  • Comment 29, posted at 30.04.13 19:24:38 by Culling Song Reply
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    Culling Song
  • The reason the Sharks have struggled this season is because we DIDN’T have the big ball carriers who do the “bash it up” rugby. If you remember, last year we did the same thing and it worked for us. The game-plan you describe though is one that the Sharks absolutely do not employ (the blind kick and chasing). Perhaps we have relied on that a bit this season because we DID NOT have the ball carriers, and also because our backline hasn’t clicked. So, yes there is most definitely room for Alberts.

  • Comment 30, posted at 30.04.13 19:44:04 by David12246 Reply

  • @Culling Song (Comment 29) : Yup, sometimes I wonder why the authors even bother.

  • Comment 31, posted at 30.04.13 20:08:08 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Culling Song (Comment 29) :
    @Pokkel (Comment 31) :
    Give me strength. 🙄

  • Comment 32, posted at 30.04.13 21:28:21 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • This is almost as silly as asking a fat kid if he wants an ice cream…… HELL YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment 33, posted at 30.04.13 23:21:41 by JD Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 32) : I think that the absence of a game plan that asks more questions of defences is common to all the South African teams, including the Boks,at the moment. The only exception is the Cheetahs, When the big ball carriers fail to generate any momentum against big organised defences there is no variation other than kick and chase and hope for the best.

    This is, IMO, exacerbated by playing big, loose forward like, 12’s whose primary role is as also to bash over the advantage line and create a target for the likes of Alberts and Bismarck to have another go. I’ve always believed that an Ebersohn type player at 12, combined with an attacking 10 taking the ball flat, provides far more variation on attack against today’s organised defences.
    I agree that that this type of game must result in a higher attrition rate.

  • Comment 34, posted at 01.05.13 08:56:59 by steve Reply

  • @steve (Comment 34) : I’ll buy that…. so who is the right 12 for the Sharks, then? I’m not convinced we have that player in our setup currently…

  • Comment 35, posted at 01.05.13 09:47:45 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 35) : Whitehead, unless you are refering to fit players.

  • Comment 36, posted at 01.05.13 09:53:50 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • @robdylan (Comment 35) : We do have the right 12; his surname sounds like “white bread”. Guess the player… 😆

  • Comment 37, posted at 01.05.13 09:54:00 by Culling Song Reply
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    Culling Song
  • @Pokkel (Comment 36) : Snap!

  • Comment 38, posted at 01.05.13 09:54:34 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • @Culling Song (Comment 37) : oh shit sorry…. yes, of course. @Pokkel (Comment 36) : I completely forgot him because he’s so blerrie injury prone.

    We clearly need a deputy who can do the same job…

  • Comment 39, posted at 01.05.13 10:06:12 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 39) : You forgot about Whitehead 😯

  • Comment 40, posted at 01.05.13 10:28:33 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 40) : no really? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 41, posted at 01.05.13 10:31:32 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Good point about an over reliance on individuals.

    The Cheetahs, Bulls and Stormers all currently have easily identified systems they play to. What exactly has the Sharks’ system (or game-plan) been over the last few years? Hard to say, it seems to vary based on who’s playing.


    I hope the person is a “well respected” rugby guru, because in my mind, it’s not a fitting term to describe a socialite.

    It seems to be a contradiction. 😆

  • Comment 42, posted at 02.05.13 04:42:38 by fyndraai Reply
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