More answers than questions for White

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content on 28 Jan 2014 at 13:23
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

It would, I’m sure, have been a pretty satisfied Sharks coaching team that climbed onto the plane at Heathrow Airport on Saturday night, notwithstanding the fact that their charges had narrowly gone down to English club side Saracens 24 hours before.

The first objective, of course, was to get back home with as many fit players as they’d left with and while there is, of course, concern over Lwazi Mvovo’s mild concussion, that mission can pretty much be marked as accomplished. For the rest, the team enjoyed a good run out and experienced something completely new, while making many new friends in the process. While there certainly wasn’t a lot to write home about after 40 minutes in which the Sharks showed clear evidence of the rustiness that we all knew would be there, the team rallied well to put in a spirited showing after the break and finish clearly the stronger of the two teams.

White’s team selection contained an interesting mix of players, some of whom had everything to prove and others virtually nothing. It was perhaps to be expected that some of the Boks, who had only joined the team in earnest a few weeks ago, would look a bit out of sorts and if the likes of Beast Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis and Willem Alberts weren’t among the clear standouts on the day, that is unlikely to concern White overly much or change his thinking about team composition. Despite some scrummaging woes – on a new surface and for at least 10 minutes with a substantially outnumbered pack – the Sharks’ set piece worked well, with line-outs in particular looking truly superb for the first time in many a campaign.

One fancies that Mtawarira, Alberts, Pieter-Steph du Toit and the brother du Plessis would all be guaranteed starters against the Bulls on 15 Feb, regardless of Saturday’s game; the focus inevitably would have been on the others in the pack and with Jean Deysel and Tera Mtembu both advancing their own claims hugely with stand-out performances, White’s job of picking just three loose forwards to start the season with has now become just that bit harder. Deysel looks full of his old fire and finally appears injury free; White may have wondered just a little about appointing him vice captain when not guaranteed a starting spot, but Saturday’s showing will have erased those doubts, while Mtembu was pure class, despite playing out of his normal position.

Perhaps the one guy who left just a slight question mark was Etienne Oosthuizen; his discipline appeared to let him down a little and while his yellow card was harsh, it was certainly justifiable under the law, far more so than du Toit’s. White is clearly a big fan of the youngster who has followed him twice, though and I’m sure there is far more to come from the 120kg bruiser. Having Anton Bresler within a hair’s breadth of fitness, though, should ensure that there is plenty of competition for that crucial number 4 jersey.

The subs also acquitted themselves well, with Jacques Botes putting in another typical “hey, remember me?” type of performance, while Kyle Cooper and Steph Lewies putting their hands up in a big way too.

The backline, packed with youngsters as it was, was always going to come under closer scrutiny and it would be wrong not to concede that the halfback pair emerged from the game with question marks still firmly in place. You can understand why White waited so long to introduce Charl McLeod, because he presumably knew exactly what he was going to get from the veteran. If anything, what he saw from Cobus Reinach will have clarified his thinking about the Bulls game, where McLeod and Pat Lambie are virtually guaranteed a start. Tim Swiel did more right than he did wrong – in unfamiliar conditions – but it is a pity that we didn’t get the chance to see how Fred Zeilinga’s legendary composure would have stood up to a similar test.

The big news, of course, was Andre Esterhuizen. If any player really went from zero to hero in this game, it was the big lad from Klerksdorp and with Frans Steyn again battling injury, White will now feel a lot more comfortable about his depth at 12 heading into the season. Let’s not forget that Heimar Williams – another natural inside centre – has never let the Sharks down and continues to impress with every outing, also finding himself on the scoresheet (albeit as a makeshift wing) at Allianz Park. The picture at 13 is less rosy, though, as Paul Jordaan looked every bit a player who hasn’t seen a rugby field in nine months. We all know how classy he is when on form, but there must be doubts about turning what we saw in London into a Super Rugby-ready outside center in the next three weeks.

Little can really be said about the back three, since their role was mainly defensive on the day. Both Tyler Fisher and Jaco van Tonder came through well, while the Springbok wingers on display will not have played themselves out of contention, despite performances that didn’t stand out on the day.

All in all, though, the Sharks should feel very confident about what they saw in the driving London rain, even if the old concerns at 4, 9 and 13 appear to still be present.


  • Esterhuizen for #13

  • Comment 1, posted at 28.01.14 13:31:17 by woody Reply
  • Esterhuizen is fast enough to play 13 and played all his junior rugby there and at 15. I would not be strange to see white play him on the wing. With My hero the fatty Fran running at 12. Swiel was awesome and should be on the bench as he can cover 10 and 15…Marais should battle it out with my new big fav fisher-what a pleasure having him at the back.

  • Comment 2, posted at 28.01.14 13:45:36 by BoerSeun Reply

  • @woody (Comment 1) :

    I also think it should be considered…

    Has Esterhuizen played 13 before Rob?

  • Comment 3, posted at 28.01.14 13:48:29 by Pokkel Reply
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  • I have a feeling that Frans Steyn may not be fit for the 1st game so will be a toss up of Williams or Esterhuizen to start at 12. or even both of them at 12 and 13. I think if fit Coetzee,Deysel and Alberts will start with Botes or Daniel on the bench. If either of those starters are unft i think Mthembu may start. Id like to see Swiel at 15 for the game vs the Lions for at least 40min. and then JW please give Ungerer or Venter a run vs the Lions. We know what we have in McCloed and mayb give Reinach another try.

  • Comment 4, posted at 28.01.14 13:52:50 by SheldonK Reply

  • Esterhuizen at 13 is the obvious way forward, with Tyler Fisher getting game time there as well. Jordaan is not physical enough for the role and needs to be moved to wing.

    Williams as back to Frans at 12.

    I don’t think Oosthuizen merits a slight question mark, he had a solid enough outing. Peet Marais should be given a run at 4 as well.

    The biggest disappointment was Reinach at 9……why on earth a 9 thinks by taking a few steps before he passes can ever be a positive thing, is beyond me.

  • Comment 5, posted at 28.01.14 14:10:23 by Saffex Reply

  • @Pokkel (Comment 3) : yes, he played there at school. Sharks junior coaches didn’t rate him as a 13, though, but thought him a great fit at 12.

  • Comment 6, posted at 28.01.14 14:25:57 by robdylan Reply
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  • Esterhuizen played 15 against the Cheethas last year and 13… Obviously 12 seems to be his future due to size and pace. But like it is in South Africa we mould positions into players in stead of players into positions. Classic example Louis Koen and Derric Hougard was 2 of the most attacking flyhalf a in junior rugby. With Jacque Fourie the best age group full back I have ever seen. We all know their stories…

  • Comment 7, posted at 28.01.14 14:32:52 by BoerSeun Reply

  • I quite like the idea of Andre at wing. Could be a great place for him to learn the ropes as a future 13… if we can pick JP at 13 in the interim.

  • Comment 8, posted at 28.01.14 14:37:28 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 8) : I like!!!

  • Comment 9, posted at 28.01.14 14:41:00 by BoerSeun Reply

  • Why would you play JP at centre when you have Frans, Esterhuizen, Jordaan, Fisher, Williams and Whitehead as options at centre…….makes no sense at all.

    The only reason Esterhuizen might not make it as a 13, is if he is not quick enough……..have not seen him in the speed stakes, so time will tell

  • Comment 10, posted at 28.01.14 14:49:33 by Saffex Reply

  • “…Fred Zeilinga’s legendary composure…”!?

    Alrighty then….

  • Comment 11, posted at 28.01.14 15:22:42 by Culling Song Reply
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    Culling Song
  • @Culling Song (Comment 11) : inverted commas implied

  • Comment 12, posted at 28.01.14 15:25:22 by robdylan Reply
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  • You should never be satisfied with a loss πŸ‘Ώ Good article Rob. The game against the lions will show us more depends who Jake chooses – I would think he should pick his 1st choice new backline. Fred Zelinga should surely get an opportunity. The real test however starts against the bulls. We have huge talent to cover 13( if not sure play JP at 13), Charl is the answer at 9. My only big concern is the inexperience at lock. We have the talent but all three preferred players have very little S15 experience. It will take Bressler some time to get form.

  • Comment 13, posted at 28.01.14 16:23:29 by Observer Reply

  • Ive heard moaning about the yellows since the game, and im surprised quite frankly.

    Both yellows were justified. Oosthuizen was a professional foul – thats a yellow.

    As for PSdT – it was the third time a Sarries player had been taken out in the air in the preceding 10-20 minutes.
    Clumsiness isnt an excuse.

  • Comment 14, posted at 28.01.14 18:44:07 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 14) : I thought, on watching the game, that the ref could have toned it down and put the team on final warning when PS clattered into the support player. After all, it wasn’t exactly the same offence and thus the card was pretty harsh as a first offence.

    Justified in the law, but perhaps not quite in the spirit

  • Comment 15, posted at 28.01.14 19:17:33 by robdylan Reply
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  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 14) : Better our younger players are harshly penalised in a warm up game and learn early in the season to attempt to stay on the right side of the law than it cost us a game that actually matters. I have no issue with the yellows or the quick-tap penalty. It’s school fees paid in advance and a great reminder that human beings ref the game.

  • Comment 16, posted at 28.01.14 20:34:40 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @robdylan (Comment 8) : Don’t like JP at 13 he is the best 14 in SA. Pick Fisher at 13 with SP or Odwa at 15.

  • Comment 17, posted at 28.01.14 20:35:57 by JD Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 16) : good comment.

  • Comment 18, posted at 28.01.14 21:11:12 by robdylan Reply
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  • Any chance we might see Williams at 13? He has pace and power. I think Esterhuizen’s size is better suited to 12.

  • Comment 19, posted at 28.01.14 21:47:29 by David12246 Reply

  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 14) : I agree that the cards were probably justified, although maybe in the circumstances of this special occasion, the ref could have given a final warning instead. I do however feel quite strongly about that first Sarries try. Not only did the ref raise his arm, he did the double whistle blast to signal time off. Stupid!

  • Comment 20, posted at 28.01.14 21:52:32 by David12246 Reply

  • Anyone know if there’s somewhere to watch the sharks Saracens game, not just the highlights? Thanx

  • Comment 21, posted at 28.01.14 23:39:09 by RuckingFun Reply

  • @RuckingFun (Comment 21) : Not yet, I don’t think.

  • Comment 22, posted at 29.01.14 00:31:54 by David12246 Reply

  • 12- esterhuizen, 13- fisher, 15- steyn.. would be my call. Frans at the back with his boot. both centers in their positions and look at the size…all over 1.91m tall and all over 100kg’s. WTF.

  • Comment 23, posted at 29.01.14 07:28:10 by sharksupport Reply

  • cant wait for the first team sheet and game? going to be interesting with most of the team we already know. Wonder how the injury situation is lying

  • Comment 24, posted at 29.01.14 07:33:52 by Dunx Reply

  • @sharksupport (Comment 23) : Thought about that option as well.
    But I think I read somewhere The Great White promised Frans the 12 jersey, so it doesn`t look as if we`ll see them in those positions.

    Esterhuizen is in a good position right now, everyone can see where he should be used.
    Fisher . . . with the Sharks history of moving guys out of position . . . I don`t know. Think he`s gonna get shunted from fullback to 13 and back again.

  • Comment 25, posted at 29.01.14 07:41:23 by Original Pierre Reply
    Original Pierre
  • When does the Vodacom Cup start? Im assuming we will have a pretty potent team. I just hope guys in the super squad that arent playing get to play in vodacom cup and not just sit on the sidelines..

  • Comment 26, posted at 29.01.14 07:56:06 by SheldonK Reply

  • My ideal backline vs the Lions would be Zeilinga, Willimas,Esterhuizen, Jordaan,Fisher, Van Tonder – bench Ungerer,Lambie,Steyn if fit

  • Comment 27, posted at 29.01.14 07:59:30 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 27) : My ideal backline vs the Lions would include a scrumhalf.

  • Comment 28, posted at 29.01.14 09:34:28 by war1 Reply
  • Just play Marius Joubert at 13. 😯

  • Comment 29, posted at 29.01.14 09:35:17 by Loosehead Reply

  • @war1 (Comment 28) : Hahha my bad, id start Reinach again cos he needs gametime to sharpen up. or else play frans steyn at scrumhlaf just for shits and giggles

  • Comment 30, posted at 29.01.14 10:11:37 by SheldonK Reply

  • @Loosehead (Comment 29) : :mrgreen:

  • Comment 31, posted at 29.01.14 10:16:49 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @war1 (Comment 28) : πŸ˜†

  • Comment 32, posted at 29.01.14 10:25:59 by pierre_mackie Reply
  • @Saffex (Comment 10) : agree, silly to move jp to center….

  • Comment 33, posted at 29.01.14 10:42:47 by KingsArmy Reply

  • @war1 (Comment 28) : that’s funny!

  • Comment 34, posted at 29.01.14 10:44:32 by KingsArmy Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 8) Excellent idea!

  • Comment 35, posted at 29.01.14 11:48:52 by [email protected] Reply

  • Rob why has my avatar changed again?

  • Comment 36, posted at 29.01.14 12:14:41 by Saffex Reply

  • @Saffex (Comment 36) : I still see ‘ol Jim.

  • Comment 37, posted at 29.01.14 12:39:00 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • @Saffex (Comment 36) : it has not

  • Comment 38, posted at 29.01.14 13:43:25 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @Pokkel (Comment 37) : And Im off to see The E Street Band with Tom Morello and old Bruce in a short while. πŸ˜€ 😎

  • Comment 39, posted at 29.01.14 13:44:23 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 39) : Enjoy old ballie! πŸ˜€

  • Comment 40, posted at 29.01.14 14:12:07 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • @robdylan (Comment 38) : Yes it has, I changed it to a picture of Jim!!!!!

  • Comment 41, posted at 29.01.14 14:56:17 by Saffex Reply

  • @Saffex (Comment 41) : and that’s exactly what I see on my screen.

    What do you see?

  • Comment 42, posted at 29.01.14 15:01:23 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 42) : The original one – photo of me!

  • Comment 43, posted at 29.01.14 15:07:21 by Saffex Reply

  • @Saffex (Comment 43) :

    It seems you’re the only one that is looking at yourself. We all see Jim pointing his finger at us.

  • Comment 44, posted at 29.01.14 15:10:35 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • I see dead people.

  • Comment 45, posted at 29.01.14 16:56:26 by McLovin Reply

  • @Saffex (Comment 43) : mate. Browsers cache stuff. Read the manual.

    When you’re done with that, press Ctrl-F5

  • Comment 46, posted at 29.01.14 17:15:05 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Not overly impressed with scrum.J.du P needs to up his game

  • Comment 47, posted at 30.01.14 14:12:41 by grumpye Reply

  • @grumpye (Comment 47) : I wasn’t blown away either…. but then again, Jannie was played into the ground last year and then also had the injuries… so probably a little off the pace still

  • Comment 48, posted at 30.01.14 15:27:41 by robdylan Reply
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