When continuity is king

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 17 Sep 2013 at 08:32
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While I completely understand and endorse the rotation policy that’s been adopted by the Sharks thus far in the Currie Cup, I can’t shake a nagging feeling that at least one of the problems besetting the team could be blamed directly on this approach.

The intention here really isn’t to nitpick, of course. Let’s keep in mind that this article comes on the back of a rare win in Kimberley and with the team just a point of the competition leaders with four games to play. In other words, from a pure competition point of view, the Sharks are doing incredibly well and for the most part, getting the wins when they need them. What is concerning, though, is the manner of some of those victories and in particular, the messiness at set piece that continues to hamper progress.

Now I’m far from an expert, but one thing I do know is that lineouts, for example, are an area of the game that only tend to get better the more a particular combination plays together. It’s not just about the hooker or the locks; rather, it takes a co-ordinated effort from all members of the pack to ensure success, from the man calling the move, the hooker throwing it in, the lifters, the jumper, the ripper, the cleaners and so on. Changing just one of these men can, of course, have an impact on synergy – changing four members of the tight five between one match and another essentially means the pack starts from scratch.

I think it goes without saying that scrumming is even more dependent on a concerted and integrated showing from all of the nine players involved. This is perhaps even more important under the new engagement sequence, with scrums lasting longer and less often decided within the first second based on which front row gets a better hit. To my way of thinking, the more often a particular forward combination (and tight five combination plays together) the better they’re going to become at scrumming as a unit.

I think the Sharks have done a pretty good job of giving everyone in the tight five a decent shot at game time over the last six weeks; now, though, I think it’s time to settle on a first-choice combination and allow them to start building some synergy through consistent selection.


  • I heard on Boots and All – I think it was Stefan – saying that the rotational policy is going to continue for the next two games and then they are going to pick the best side from there on in to gel for the semi finals.

  • Comment 1, posted at 17.09.13 08:35:26 by PTAShark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • I agree fully, time for the players to really get to know each other and start gelling together.

  • Comment 2, posted at 17.09.13 08:35:54 by Son Of Mayhem Reply
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  • @PTAShark; yeah? And then they bugger it all up by selecting the returning Boks again.

  • Comment 3, posted at 17.09.13 08:38:32 by Son Of Mayhem Reply
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  • I wondered if maybe the rotation approach just takes longer for the team to master. So each hooker needs time to learn throwing in to maybe 6 jumpers at any time instead of the usual 3. After an extended time of rotating players eventually everyone will know everyone well enough that they can play in almost any combination. Or am I being naive?

  • Comment 4, posted at 17.09.13 08:41:38 by Robby Hambly Reply

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  • @Robby Hambly (Comment 4) : no, I think you’re probably right…. I’m going to raise this with BMH later and I predict I’ll be told I’m being unnecessarily “short termist” πŸ™‚

  • Comment 5, posted at 17.09.13 08:43:47 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Son Of Mayhem (Comment 3) : Just saying what I heard.

  • Comment 6, posted at 17.09.13 08:44:24 by PTAShark Reply
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  • The rotation will maybe word during the super15 when you play a lot of games and the players need the rest. Clearly this rotation isn’t working with us at the moment in the manner at which the players are playing. The coached need to pick their best team right now and stick with it till the end, because chopping and changing are going to cost us big time.

    The one thing that bothers me at the moment is butch james that is kicking every ball away no matter where on the field he is. I can’t understand why is he kicking when we are in their 22 and the worst is that we lose the ball each and every time and all the hard work is out the window.

  • Comment 7, posted at 17.09.13 08:51:19 by jovner Reply

  • @PTAShark; I know πŸ™‚

  • Comment 8, posted at 17.09.13 08:52:16 by Son Of Mayhem Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 5) : haha and then depending on his response we can then prepare ourselves for 2014 Super rugby. Patience and many deep breaths till we get it right, and an acting rotation policy apologist on Sharksworld

  • Comment 9, posted at 17.09.13 08:59:06 by Robby Hambly Reply

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  • @jovner (Comment 7) : sorry mate, but if you watched Butch play against Griquas, then you’ll know that that statement simply isn’t true.

  • Comment 10, posted at 17.09.13 08:59:16 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 10) : rob i did watch the game and wasn’t impressed with his play at all. when fred came on he attacked the line with speed, something butch didn’t do at all.our best bet will be to stick with fred till lambie comes back, but that is just my opinion

  • Comment 11, posted at 17.09.13 09:18:00 by jovner Reply

  • Ok hang on here. I get that rotation can mess up club teams that practise twice a week and then play. But this is a professional outfit. The coaches and players say they know who will be rotated when and where etc. So barring injuries on the Monday before a game the players and coaches should know who will be playing that weekend. So that gives 5 days to prepare. They are professionals so should be ‘working” 8 hour days. Thats 40 hours to get the scrums and lineouts etc sorted- that should be way more than enough time for professionals to get it sorted. So not enough time to gel is no excuse. Players need to be held accountable for non performance of their roles just like each of us would be accountable at our jobs. Now the team is doing pretty well so dont get me wrong im not having a big go at them here. But we can all see the performance doesnt match the results and it is not matter of huge changes that are needed. Props,Locks and Hookers just need to be quicker and more accurate at lineout and scrums. Loosies need to perform their primary role at the breakdowns and the backs need to run hard and straight and run off each other and dont drop the bladdy ball!! We have good players but everyone just seems to want to do the glory stuff before putting in the hard yards.

  • Comment 12, posted at 17.09.13 09:22:05 by SheldonK Reply

  • To be honest the Curry Cup had lost most of its shine. This year the quality has been pretty abysmal – perhaps I am just tired after this long Super 15.

    It is more important to me to blood players with the S15 in mind – winning the Curry Cup would just be a bonus. With that in mind I would rather give fringe players more exposure to see what they are made of. Likewise youngsters like Zeilanga should be given more exposure than old war horses like Butch

    To be honest very few new players have impressed me – personally Heimar Williams being about the only one.

  • Comment 13, posted at 17.09.13 09:28:40 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @SheldonK (Comment 12) :

    I agree, if they know there is a rotation policy then any combination should be able to play without major disruption.

  • Comment 14, posted at 17.09.13 10:06:08 by Pokkel Reply
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  • While I do agree that rotation is playing a bit of havoc I’m still a firm supporter of the policy.

    We are doing damn well considering the amount of quality players who are still recovering from SR injuries or playing for the Boks. Not to mention new coaching staff and totally new approach. It’s not even two months and look were we are. 2nd on the log by a single point. 2nd highest points scored. 2nd best points difference. (The Lions thrashing of the Bulls giving them the lead in PF PA & PD)

    The Sharks have been quite scrappy and our set pieces are not functioning very well, but there is a something to be said about the belief of the team that they can come from behind and win a game. They’ve done it 4 times now and gave it a hellva go against WP. Maybe its got to do with our subs that are truly impact players and not just the 2nd choice for the position they cover?

  • Comment 15, posted at 17.09.13 10:06:28 by gregkaos Reply
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  • Super Rugby Matchday 23

    1. Mtwarira
    2. B. du Plessis
    3. J. du Plessis
    4. Hewitt
    5. Du Toit
    6. Daniel
    7. Deysel
    8. Kankowski
    9. Mcleod
    10. Lambie
    11. Mvovo
    12. Williams
    13. Whitehead
    14. Pieterson
    15. Marais
    16. Chadwick
    17. Cooper
    18. Herbst
    19. Wentzel
    20. Botes
    21. Reinach
    22. Steyn
    23. Ndugane

    Ofcourse there are a few others:
    Mtembu, P. Marais, Jordaan, Gerber etc.

    We have a pretty strong squad.

  • Comment 16, posted at 17.09.13 10:07:45 by Son Of Mayhem Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 12) : mate, rugby players simply don’t practise for 8 hours a day. That’s just not reality.

  • Comment 17, posted at 17.09.13 10:18:52 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Son Of Mayhem (Comment 16) : Poor Marcel – out of sight, out of mind

  • Comment 18, posted at 17.09.13 10:37:18 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 17) : No its not about physically training 8hrs a day but in that time they should be analysing their own and opposition scums,lineouts etc as well as physically training. What i was getting at is that there is definitely sufficient time for them to gel so thats not an excuse for not executing. Yes I get during the game people pick up knocks and fatigue etc so it wont always be perfect but it definitely should be a lot slicker than it is at the moment.

  • Comment 19, posted at 17.09.13 10:37:22 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 19) : I don’t completely agree… and this is not really scientific, but more based on what players have told me.

    Things like scrumming and lineouts come right through actually playing. You can practice them as much as you like, but without that aspect of real “live” competition, you can’t fine tune them.

    You also need to remember that the Sharks only really have 3 proper practice session between each game. That really isn’t a lot of time, in the grander scheme of things. The pre-season is when there’s actually time to work on these things….

  • Comment 20, posted at 17.09.13 10:42:13 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Son Of Mayhem (Comment 16) : @Bokhoring (Comment 18) : Ditto Alberts.

  • Comment 21, posted at 17.09.13 10:53:49 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 21) : True, and JP Peterson

  • Comment 22, posted at 17.09.13 10:54:20 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 22) : Nope – not forgotten. My mistake

  • Comment 23, posted at 17.09.13 10:57:05 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 21) : and Bresler. And Jacobie Adriaanse

  • Comment 24, posted at 17.09.13 10:58:21 by robdylan Reply
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  • :mrgreen: @robdylan (Comment 24) : Makes you realise how many good players we actually have..

  • Comment 25, posted at 17.09.13 11:04:51 by RedSharkUtd82 Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 24) : Adriaanse has not yet been sighted in a Sharks jersey, so technically speaking he cannot be out of mind.

    Must say I am looking forward to seeing him in one

  • Comment 26, posted at 17.09.13 11:07:46 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 20) : Im sorry thats a cop out from the players and management. If scrums and lineouts cant be practised properly then do live scrumming etc. There are enough players in the academy, u21 side etc that they can use for live runs. And if its not coming right then to just say sorry we only have 3 practises is just not good enough. They are professionals, so act like it. Like I said i dont expect them to be perfect every time but to say there isnt time etc is just a cop out. Less photo shoot more practise. U think Russian ballet dancers say sorry we can only practise 3 times so forgive me if i mess up. They probably get shot in Russia. Im not saying shoot the players- we arent Americans and gun happy but ya.

  • Comment 27, posted at 17.09.13 11:18:52 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 27) : mate, I’m sorry, but that’s just ignorant.

    It’s like the standard response to a loss or sub-par performance is to say “spend more time practising”.

    Are you one of those okes that goes up to players in the supermarket and says “shouldn’t you be practising cos you were KAK last week”?

  • Comment 28, posted at 17.09.13 11:24:00 by robdylan Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 27) : also need to consider the increased chances of injury and match fatigue if you spend the whole week doing live scrumming drills.

  • Comment 29, posted at 17.09.13 11:24:48 by robdylan Reply
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  • @gregkaos (Comment 15) : Well put. We as supporters need to start realising that the rotation policy was put in place with a bigger picture in mind. Pity we tend to be such an impatient bunch. There are very promising signs in all our performances, we shouldn’t look past these.

  • Comment 30, posted at 17.09.13 11:34:26 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @robdylan (Comment 29) : No not at all. But the excuse for nto getting it right cant be ” we didnt have time to practise”. Thats what im saying. Its all about time management. So if hitting a scrum machine isnt giving you the required benefit in your allotted time then scrap that and rather do live scrumming. Dont give the excuse ” we didnt have time to do live scrumming cos we were using the scrum machine but the scrum machine doesnt mirror the game so thats why we didnt gel.” Im a big advocate of quality over quantity so dont waste time on doing something if you say its not helping. And to reply toyour comment if Sharks guys are out playing golf and shopping during their ‘work day’ then maybe their time should be better spent elsewhere as us mere mortals dont get that luxury. The point im trying to make is that of professionalism. Just because they play sport doesnt make them different to doctors,lawyers etc. Its just a view point

  • Comment 31, posted at 17.09.13 12:09:31 by SheldonK Reply

  • Missing players: “etc”

    I knew I was missing a few okes but at the time I couldnt think of who it was 😳

    The point was that we actually have a pretty decent squad of players and if managed correctly we shouldnt have any problems.

  • Comment 32, posted at 17.09.13 13:13:23 by Son Of Mayhem Reply
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  • A couple other things on why I like the rotation policy.

    Our fringe players are getting some crucial game time, while our first choice players are getting some crucial rest allowing them to be fresher than our opposition at the end of a season. Who knows if injury strikes we may well be relying on our younger guys to win a final! This is also surely a better way of finding those rare players who can really step up to the plate than waiting for an injury to a player to pave the way. Consider how many players have risen to greatness only because of an injury to another player allowed his selection? Who knows how many potential super stars have gone on to other things after getting nowhere or dropped after a nervous debut?

    On injuries we should theoretically have less than teams that don’t use rotation policies. I’d actually like to see a comparison on CC injuries per team.

    Finally, I’m sure it will make the Sharks a more inviting prospect for younger players who will see the Sharks camp as a place they have a better chance of getting game time at.

  • Comment 33, posted at 17.09.13 15:35:10 by gregkaos Reply
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  • @gregkaos (Comment 33) : Never thought about your last point but it could definitely be a very welcome side-effect of the rotation policy!

  • Comment 34, posted at 17.09.13 16:01:40 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • 1. Mtawarira
    2. Bismark
    3. Jannie
    4. Wentzel/Bresler
    5. Du Toit
    6. Coetzee/Deysel
    7. Alberts
    8. Kankowski/Daniel
    9. Reinach/Mcleod
    Soon we will have options like this again. Would love to have written 15.Ludik/Marais but a fully fit sharks squad would be quite special.

  • Comment 35, posted at 17.09.13 16:52:20 by soutie Reply

  • I think we need to let the rotation policy continue for this year. Let every player in the squad get game time in the currie cup. This way the young players get game time. Let’s sy that every player in the squad receives a minimum of 5 games this year. Leave out the springboks when they return. Come next year we will have a strong squad with more caps behind them. So every time we have an injury we can call on guys like fred, ntembu and they will be confident and slot in easier. If we win this years currie cup its a bonus. But let’s build a strong squad for 2014 Super Rungby and currie cup.

  • Comment 36, posted at 18.09.13 04:10:54 by Shark Overide Reply


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