robdylan

Super Rugby 2013: Five lessons


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 16 Jul 2013 at 14:17
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Well, we’ve got to that magical time of year where the dust is staring to settle on yet another not-so-successful Super Rugby campaign. While the Bulls and the Cheetahs go on to contest the knock-outs, The Sharks ended up in lowly eighth place on the overall log, their worst regular season finish since the 2010 season, when they ended 9th.

As we enter an inevitable period of rebuilding that always accompanies change, let’s see if we can take five lessons from this year’s dismal campaign and turn them into positive learning experiences that we can take forward.

1) We really do have some amazing forwards.

Apart from the mid-season slump, one really does have to look at the Sharks forwards as the real driving force behind the initial run of victories, as well as the late rally that so nearly proved enough to sneak a play-off place. The Sharks pack, when on song, is a phenomenal entity and with a strong and functioning set-piece, coupled with good breakdown technique, there is no reason why these men should be providing the platform for a Super Rugby trophy in the next season or two. We have the best pack in the country – we just need to figure out how to capitalise better.

2) Injuries happen. Plan for them.

While the Sharks have suffered an abnormally high injury toll this season, we do need to accept that injuries to players are a necessary and inevitable evil of the modern game and its associated workload. You don’t see the Bulls panicking and flying in emergency loan players from all over the country, though, when they have an injury crisis and there’s no reason that the Sharks should need to do that either. While the Sharks must be commended for backing some youngsters when the chips were down, there were still far too many cases when an experienced “import” was brought in to the detriment of local player development. Another key point here, though, is just how vital Tim Whitehead was to our backline last year, a fact that was made all the more clear by his absence. If only we’d had suitable back-up for his skillset within the squad.

3) Continuity is key.

This probably goes hand-in-hand with the above point and gives some credence to the statement that “injuries killed the campaign this year”. The reality, though, is that in certain positions, combinations really are very important and take time to gel. The amount of chopping and changing, particularly amongst the backs this season, made it near impossible for any meaningful partnerships to be forged. You can blame this on injury only to a certain point, but the fact does remain that the injuries certainly hampered attempts to get the midfield working properly this season.

4) Catches win matches.

This is a cricketing term, of course, but the lesson we need to learn here is that a soft moment at the wrong time can so easily lose you a match. Far too often, the Sharks have lost key games based on making a silly mistake at just the wrong time; both games against the Bulls were lost in this fashion, as was the game against the Highlanders. We need to look, once again, at the question of mental strength and ask ourselves how much longer we can go on without this key aspect of a player’s preparation being given due attention.

And perhaps the most contentious of all

5) Keegan: good foot soldier, but not a general?

We’ve seen for ourselves, just in the lat two weeks, that Keegan Daniel is a superb player when not under significant pressure. For the Sharks, he has always been at his best when allowed freedom to “do what he does”, but that dynamic simply does not lend itself to the captain of the team. It would be petulant and downright unfair to blame this season’s woes on Daniel’s captaincy, but it’s very hard to argue that Keegan as “the man with the armband” wasn’t at least a part of the problem.

I’m sure you won’t all agree with me on these, but let me know in the comments section if you feel I’ve got any wrong, or missed anything significant.


57 Comments

  • I really think we need to look at a good system of rotation especially amongst our loosies. The style of play we use here in SA is just so hard on the players and I think we need to be proactive managing players to try and avoid injuries to key players.

  • Comment 1, posted at 16.07.13 14:25:06 by Half-Pint Reply
     
  • The Bulls did loan Mapoe and Visagie from the Lions, but at least you didn’t go with the Stormers line of blaming the refs and difficult fixture list.

    I guess the injuries to your backline players really ended up costing you, and perhaps losing to the Highlanders when everyone else at that stage gave them a hiding

  • Comment 2, posted at 16.07.13 14:25:57 by walter van Lions World Reply
    walter van Lions World
     
  • Re point 2 and the Bulls – Lionel Mapoe.

  • Comment 3, posted at 16.07.13 14:26:42 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • I think the most significant problem in the long run is our lack of faith in our youth.

  • Comment 4, posted at 16.07.13 14:32:31 by David12246 Reply

    Apollo
     
  • @walter van Lions World (Comment 2) : @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 3) : The bulls brought in two players from the Lions at the beginning of the season to augment their squad… Anyone count how many we ended up using?

  • Comment 5, posted at 16.07.13 14:37:14 by robdylan Reply
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  • Rob, they also bought a number of our players at the end of last season, so if you take those bought players into account they used more Lions than what the Sharks did

  • Comment 6, posted at 16.07.13 14:38:56 by walter van Lions World Reply

    walter van Lions World
     
  • I agree to some extent with them bringing in certain players when required…in the end their aim is to win the title, which you can’t do with a bunch of youngsters – BUT – what does that really give us in the long run?! We should be backing our youngsters and structures, then they also won’t up and leave…

    Franco played crap, apart from the last 2 or 3 games, would Marias have done any worse, I don’t think so.

    I have always liked the way Keegan has played, but I really think the armband should go to someone else from the currie cup going forwards, so he can focus on his strengths. Based on his form he should not have started half the games he did this season, but it was awesome seeing him back to his punch-above-his-weight best in the last couple of games!

  • Comment 7, posted at 16.07.13 14:42:46 by AlienArmy Reply

    AlienArmy
     
  • @walter van Lions World (Comment 6) : ok, point taken. But there’s never the same feeling of “panic” when they have an injury…

  • Comment 8, posted at 16.07.13 14:48:39 by robdylan Reply
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  • @AlienArmy (Comment 7) : Keegan – better as an impact sub than a starter?

  • Comment 9, posted at 16.07.13 14:50:14 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 8) : I think the problem was when most of our big bruisers (Deysel, Alberts, Bismarck) were not available we had no idea how to create momentum without them.

  • Comment 10, posted at 16.07.13 14:54:35 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • Was Plum not a favourite to blame prior to his stumping?

  • Comment 11, posted at 16.07.13 15:04:31 by bokbok Reply

    bokbok
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 9) : hhmmm, I would still start him, well between him and kanko. I think he had a point to prove and therefore played out of his skin the last couple of games, which was nice to see.

    He did force his way into the team as a regular starter because of the impact he had when coming of the bench – but, he has impressed as much when starting. It’s probably not fair that he has the amount of criticism coming his way as he does, as the amount of injuries seemed to have affected his captaincy as well as form.

    If he is fit I would select a match day 22 without him in it 😉

  • Comment 12, posted at 16.07.13 15:07:40 by AlienArmy Reply

    AlienArmy
     
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 10) : spot on…

  • Comment 13, posted at 16.07.13 15:08:25 by AlienArmy Reply

    AlienArmy
     
  • @bokbok (Comment 11) : when the ship sinks, the man holding the tiller has to go down with it.

    Plumtree is directly to blame for at least 3 of the negatives above.

  • Comment 14, posted at 16.07.13 15:11:03 by robdylan Reply
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  • @AlienArmy (Comment 12) : you would, or you would not?

  • Comment 15, posted at 16.07.13 15:12:39 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 9) : I just think, when fit and in form, our best loose trio is Kanko, Alberts and Coetzee. Well, with the way Deysel has played recently, I would be tempted to play Alberts at lock to give Deysel the jersey – but what to do with Keegan and Botes etc?! 😉

  • Comment 16, posted at 16.07.13 15:17:34 by AlienArmy Reply

    AlienArmy
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 15) : sorry, I would NOT select a match day 22 without him in it, albeit starting or as an impact role… 😆

  • Comment 17, posted at 16.07.13 15:19:45 by AlienArmy Reply

    AlienArmy
     
  • mmmmmm…. here’s my lesson learned for this season:
    DONT COUNT YOUR CHICKENS before they hatched!!! At the start of the season I imagined that with our squad we would end up on top of the log so far ahead of the nearest team that they would have to paly 2more months to catch up on points. Yet we did not make playoffs!
    NEVER EVER again label the sharks as favorites for a SuperRugby season! NEVER maybe I think…. there that was my 5cents on this. Finish en klaar, don’t want to talk about this season again for the next 5 years!

  • Comment 18, posted at 16.07.13 15:20:57 by R Hayward Reply

     
  • @AlienArmy (Comment 16) : to me it’s simple. I love Jacques Botes, but he needs a golden handshake now. He is past it. We cannot continue to compromise young players like Mtembu, Kleinhans, Majola and the like by hanging onto Botes.

    Deysel and Alberts need to get rotated at 7.

    My Super Ruby loose trio for next year is Coetzee 6, Alberts/Deysel 7, Kanko 8.

    Keegan benches and occasionally starts at 6, while Mtembu gets to rotate at 8 with Kanko.

  • Comment 19, posted at 16.07.13 15:27:36 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 19) : that is 100% correct! Feel the same about all you said. Botes has served us so well, but we can’t hang on to the past forever…or we will end up losing all or some of those younger guys.

    Also, the way you suggested it, it would also help prevent injuries and guys playing to much rugby. And when the injuries do occur, we’ll have some younger guys who at least have had a bit of game time!

  • Comment 20, posted at 16.07.13 15:33:09 by AlienArmy Reply

    AlienArmy
     
  • What about player management (and player happiness for that matter)? Throughout this whole campaign we all had the feeling something was not right in the camp. There were rumours (none confirmed), but “waar daar ‘n rokie is….”. Maybe a point to add then is we need a proper head coach, which ties in to your mental toughness point.

  • Comment 21, posted at 16.07.13 15:40:52 by bokbok Reply

    bokbok
     
  • @AlienArmy (Comment 17) : Agree!

  • Comment 22, posted at 16.07.13 15:47:06 by GreatSharksays Reply

     
  • My take on Keegan Daniel:

    Keegan is arguably the most naturally gifted ball player in the Sharks squad. He can play 6, 7 and 8, and punches waaay above his weight in terms of carrying, defense and lineouts. When on song, his feel for- and ability to turn a game with a moment of brilliance is unparalleled. Prior to being appointed captain, he was the epitome of commitment and enthusiasm, and was often seen talking to- and firing up players around him.

    BUT

    He lacks the technique to be an out-and-out 6, and lacks the bulk to physically impose himself at 7 or 8 in tight, grinding games. Ideally, he should be utilised in a horses-for-courses manner, changing his position depending on the opponents, and likely gameplan. This does mean that he is not an automatic starter. On top of that, he seems to be the type of character who can inspire and divide in equal measure, and there remains questions about his temperament and discipline.

    So in short, Keegan Daniel, awesome player, leader and indispensable squad member, yes, but as captain, no.

    And there you have my two cents.

  • Comment 23, posted at 16.07.13 15:48:12 by Culling Song Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 19) : wow clever are we? 😀 I totally agree there

  • Comment 24, posted at 16.07.13 15:53:27 by Uli Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 19) : @Culling Song (Comment 23) : Who to take the reigns then?

  • Comment 25, posted at 16.07.13 15:56:08 by Uli Reply
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  • My biggest issue with KD as captain is he seems hell bend on getting the ref on the wrong side of him… He needs a more casual approach towards the refs and try and convince them to love him rather than try and argue with them and making them hate him.

  • Comment 26, posted at 16.07.13 16:00:17 by Uli Reply
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  • Rob, what about a lack of a Plan B? When we lost our big runners we couldn’t adapt. We need to utilise our backs more to get us territory and score tries.

    I remember growing up to a Natal backline of the 90’s with the likes of Putt, Honiball, Muir/Muller, Thomson, Cabous, Small and Joubert running other teams off their feet. They created magic, they didn’t just bash into defenders.

    I feel Tim Whitehead creates that magic, and Pat was, before this season. We need to be a complete team where the backline and forwards combine, much like the Cheetahs, Crusaders and the Reds do. Let’s have a go and take a risk or two, not seem too afraid that we might mess up.

  • Comment 27, posted at 16.07.13 16:00:57 by StevieS Reply
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  • @StevieS (Comment 27) : I rate 1996 as that golden year when those backs were just phenomenal! It was something really special watching them operate that year.

  • Comment 28, posted at 16.07.13 16:03:06 by Uli Reply
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  • @StevieS (Comment 27) : @Uli (Comment 28) : WE ALL (whom have seen it) miss those years!!! That must have been our golden era!!!
    Problem is: players now are ALWAYS going to be compared to those oukes! I know I do it myself… but geese we should not!

  • Comment 29, posted at 16.07.13 16:09:35 by R Hayward Reply

     
  • @Uli (Comment 28) : Made me love rugby even more. Remember the Gary Teichmann benefit game, Newport vs Sharks, when Honiball flattened Shane Howarth and that backline I mentioned, well most of them, came on and bamboozled the Dragons 😆

  • Comment 30, posted at 16.07.13 16:12:43 by StevieS Reply
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  • @StevieS (Comment 30) : haha yea! 😀

  • Comment 31, posted at 16.07.13 16:16:03 by Uli Reply
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  • @R Hayward (Comment 29) : I know the guys are bigger now, defences are tighter etc, but our guys seem afraid to take a chance, let the ball fly.

  • Comment 32, posted at 16.07.13 16:16:30 by StevieS Reply
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  • @StevieS (Comment 32) : Fair enough, but let me put it this way…. each time one of our players tries something… and it ends up being ballz, then the typical shark supporters in the stadium boos him off the field…. Just my two cents…

  • Comment 33, posted at 16.07.13 16:22:53 by Uli Reply
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  • Bullbring is a shark!!!

    News out of the Bulls Camp…from one of their players…

  • Comment 34, posted at 16.07.13 16:23:03 by BoerSeun Reply

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  • @BoerSeun (Comment 34) : eks verlore, wie is dit?

  • Comment 35, posted at 16.07.13 16:25:05 by Uli Reply
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  • @BoerSeun (Comment 34) : Who the F is Bullbring???

  • Comment 36, posted at 16.07.13 16:25:36 by R Hayward Reply

     
  • @BoerSeun (Comment 34) : this guy? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bulbring

  • Comment 37, posted at 16.07.13 16:26:22 by Uli Reply
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  • Kings lock!!! Kept Sykes on the bench this season, I tried to find out about PSDT and this came out.

  • Comment 38, posted at 16.07.13 16:30:23 by BoerSeun Reply

    BoerSeun
     
  • @BoerSeun (Comment 38) : Dude ek vra net maar hoe weet die Bulle en WP so baie wat by die Sharks gebeur maar ons hier weet net mooi f all?

  • Comment 39, posted at 16.07.13 16:31:58 by Uli Reply
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  • Most important lesson don’t give the coach a SR reprieve if he has an above average CC result 👿

  • Comment 40, posted at 16.07.13 16:32:55 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
     
  • @Uli (Comment 39) : players and agents talk amount each other as options are put on the table. Who is moving with going away…players talk to their mates…so loop die dinge maar.

  • Comment 41, posted at 16.07.13 16:46:09 by BoerSeun Reply

    BoerSeun
     
  • @BoerSeun (Comment 34) : that is not true. I have just checked.

  • Comment 42, posted at 16.07.13 16:51:37 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 42) : I can’t take this waiting I want to know what is true and what not. Who is staying and who is going what is happening to the sharks under Smit and Venter. I will verify it from Kings camp if true, just waiting for SMS.

  • Comment 43, posted at 16.07.13 17:02:00 by BoerSeun Reply

    BoerSeun
     
  • @BoerSeun (Comment 43) : good luck. I have spoken to his agent

  • Comment 44, posted at 16.07.13 17:11:42 by robdylan Reply
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  • @BoerSeun (Comment 43) : Yeah this age of glasnost and perestroika at the Sharks is just not happening…much like its predecessor.

  • Comment 45, posted at 16.07.13 17:16:17 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 44) : Hows about a chat with PSdT’s agent Rob’o 😀

  • Comment 46, posted at 16.07.13 17:23:51 by FireTheLooser Reply

     
  • @BoerSeun (Comment 41) : Due ek weetie maar jou goed lyk baie soos assume vir my…. wat het van Robbie D geword?

  • Comment 47, posted at 16.07.13 17:51:02 by Uli Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 46) : that oke doesn’t talk to ANYONE

  • Comment 48, posted at 16.07.13 17:51:33 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 44) : 😆 and you believe an agent?!?!?!?

  • Comment 49, posted at 16.07.13 18:37:09 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
     
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 49) : I’m more likely to believe an agent than some random oke on a website… I check against the best source I have. Beasts no source. 🙂

  • Comment 50, posted at 16.07.13 19:13:39 by robdylan Reply
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  • Good article Rob.I agree with all said, but after all is said and done point4 is the most NB and wins SR trophies.That killer instinct or winning culture with mental discipline prevelant in the Bulls and Crusaders is sorely lacking in Sharks .These teams don’t panick when missing key players,the machine(team)just works.If Bulls played Chiefs last year final I believe Bulls wud have won on just tic tacs alone no travel complaints,true professionals

  • Comment 51, posted at 16.07.13 20:32:52 by benji Reply
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  • @Uli (Comment 47) : Robbie Deans sou volgens my niesharks toe Kom nie, die talk was glo al 2 weke voor jy gefire is dat “n suid afrikaanse franchise hom ge kontak het en sy mense toe laat Val het hy is al ge kontak deur ‘n ander Sa franchise die sharks. Ek gee my nie uit as ‘n ou in rugby admin nie. Ek het vir Rob en Q gevra of hulle iets weet na aanluiding van die “lead”…en hulle het nie/ ek het as ‘n rugby man nooit geglo hy sal kom nie om dat hy virVenter en Smit sal oor heers. In elk geval die PSDT lead Kom van vrek naby aan hom. En Bullbring Kom uit die mond van ‘n Goeie vriend van hom uit die bulle se kamp. Wat my Rugby Kennis aanbetref het ek eerste klas rugby gespreel. Eerste liga club rugby vir 8 jaar gekontract was. Ek is bietjie de hel in vir comments hier Bo, maar Kom ons kyk maar of hy Kom. Marko Wentsel in nou in Durban….so ons kyk maar daar ook moerse random toeval, of hoe dink jy?..as jy dit assume wil norm is dit reg…. Ons kyk maar wat gebeur,en hoop vir die beste.

  • Comment 52, posted at 17.07.13 01:52:42 by BoerSeun Reply

    BoerSeun
     
  • @benji (Comment 51) : Bulls are not that great overseas when it comes to playoff time. No team would have been able to compete after that crazy travelling – Sharks did extremely well to get into the final.

    The Bulls won their titles by doing enough through the season to get themselves into a good log position to be able to play in SA come playoff time.

  • Comment 53, posted at 17.07.13 07:55:56 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @BoerSeun (Comment 52) : As Marko Wentsel regtig in DBN is dan is ek klaar met die Sharks. Ek is oor al die fail appointments wat hulle maak.

  • Comment 54, posted at 17.07.13 09:43:54 by Uli Reply
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  • @Uli (Comment 54) : you don’t think, perhaps, that Marco Wentzel might be appointed as a specialist lineout coach? Maybe you should use google to work out whether you think that would be a good appointment.

  • Comment 55, posted at 17.07.13 10:13:38 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 55) : Who needs Google when we have Sharksworld? 😛

  • Comment 56, posted at 17.07.13 10:45:23 by MysticShark Reply
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  • @MysticShark (Comment 56) : oh right

  • Comment 57, posted at 17.07.13 11:28:15 by robdylan Reply
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