A different way to play

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 22 Aug 2014 at 11:37
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There’s been a fair bit of talk coming from the Sharks in recent weeks about the need to adjust their game due to the lack of ball carrying forwards, but this weekend’s selection of Francois Kleinhans at blindside flank means that they will need to “walk the walk” for the first time this campaign.

There’s been a bit of a paradox, if you ask me, in that while on the one hand saying there aren’t any ball carriers, the Sharks have played big ball carrying lock Etienne Oosthuizen on the flank, in an attempt to keep the loose trio to the same sort of shape that it would have had with a Willem Alberts or Jean Deysel in the number 7 jersey. Oosthuizen battled against Griquas, but came right pretty well against the Pumas and played a pretty good game – a good enough one to suggest that he might be a long-term option as replacement for Alberts should the Sharks so choose.

The dynamic will be completely different this week. Francois Kleinhans – who surely must now weigh a bit more than the 98kg that his most recent profile information includes (and as an aside, Sharks, when are you going to get up-to-date Currie Cup player profiles onto your website?) – is all the same never going to give you same sort of advantage-line dominance that the likes of Alberts (120kg) or Deysel (115kg) could. At roughly the same height as a Jacques Botes and perhaps only a few kilograms more in weight, Kleinhans brings a completely different skill set to the party and the Sharks are going to have to change the way that the loose forward unit operates as a result.

Simply put, popping the ball to Kleinhans as a first receiver and expecting him to bulldoze his way over two defenders is not likely to be a very effective way to cross the advantage line. That’s not to say that the Sharks shouldn’t be able to find many positives to his inclusion, if they can just use them correctly.

One criticism from last week is that we didn’t get enough forwards to enough rucks with enough haste to regularly ensure clean ball. Kleinhans’s superior pace and workrate, coupled with reasonable ground skills from the time spent as a 6, should theoretically result in an improvement in the speed of ruck ball – the proviso is that we need the tights to work harder on cleaning and counter rucking as well, to compensate for the loss of bulk. With the “fetching” workload shared, we could theoretically also see more of Jacques Botes’s skills in open play and by alternating between fetching and carrying roles for the two flankers, we might become less predictable to the opposition.

To my mind, though, the best kind of breakdown is one that you don’t have at all and by encouraging a more fluid game, that favours continuity over going to ground, the inclusion of two fast flankers with a high work rate could and should be a masterstroke.

It’s all rather theoretical, of course, but to my mind, the Sharks simply have to embrace this change and this selection and adjust their approach in such a way that it works. Trying to get Francois Kleinhans to play like Willem Alberts is not going to do either the player or the team any favours.


  • You are right when you say it will have to be a mindset change. Remember when we had Botes, Kanko and Keegan playing in the same loose trio, it was the same situation as we have now, but the weren’t utilized the correct way. When playing 2 fetchers, I believe then you have to look at the Wallabies tactics they used when playing Phil Waugh and George Smith together.

  • Comment 1, posted at 22.08.14 11:45:21 by KingRiaan Reply
  • I think the Sharks would have liked to keep Oosthuizen at 7 but injuries meant a change was forced apon them. Stevens likes to carry the ball a lot as does Chadwick and Cooper, which is a nice change from our Bok props that hardly carry the ball. so i think those will be our primary carriers with Oosthuizen. The Sharks will need to watch their penalty count as the Cheetahs will kick penalties deep into our half and use their rolling maul- and the Sharks dont exactly defend mauls too well!

  • Comment 2, posted at 22.08.14 11:54:10 by SheldonK Reply
  • Oosthuizen as a possible replacement for Alberts? You must have seen something that I didnt last week! 😯

  • Comment 3, posted at 22.08.14 12:07:19 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 3) : I was genuinely impressed with his play last week

  • Comment 4, posted at 22.08.14 12:11:55 by robdylan Reply
  • Amen Rob but hopefully these sort of realisations won’t only come to the Sharks when injury-enforced. One has to wonder how many years are taken from a player like Albert’s career when he become the first receiver every other phase. His injury with the Boks came as no surprise to anyone.

  • Comment 5, posted at 22.08.14 12:19:51 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld vanmartin
  • @SheldonK (Comment 2) : They score enough off them, themselves though.

  • Comment 6, posted at 22.08.14 12:34:47 by KingCheetah Reply
  • @vanmartin (Comment 5) : I couldn’t agree more, especially when our game plan involves him receiving the ball standing still…just like when John Smit used to get the ball at a stand still. Momentum = force!!!

    @robdylan (Comment 4) : Great article Rob. I’ve always been in favour of using the talent at hand to its best potential i.e. play a type of game which suits your players, rather than force them into a specific type of game plan.

  • Comment 7, posted at 22.08.14 12:45:44 by StevieS Reply
  • @vanmartin (Comment 5) : I agree completely. We rely too much on one or two players and don’t rotate them and their bodies can’t handle it!

    It is also predictable rugby and easy to defend against and our lack of a Plan B was evident in the semi-final against the Crusaders. We don’t use dummy-runners but rather rely on smash-and-bash rugby!

  • Comment 8, posted at 22.08.14 12:47:36 by ChrisS Reply
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 6) : True, you would think we could then defend it better.

  • Comment 9, posted at 22.08.14 12:53:33 by SheldonK Reply
  • @SheldonK (Comment 9) : It is a menace to defend against for starters. You get one shot at stopping, once it gets moving, its very hard to stop legally.

  • Comment 10, posted at 22.08.14 13:08:30 by KingCheetah Reply
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 10) : Yeh it is a bit unfair on the defending side. U almost need to take a somewhat scrum technique in stopping it. Will be interesting to see the law changes around it.

  • Comment 11, posted at 22.08.14 13:13:56 by SheldonK Reply
  • @SheldonK (Comment 11) : The Argies doesn’t seem to have a problem stopping it

  • Comment 12, posted at 22.08.14 13:30:42 by KingRiaan Reply
  • @SheldonK (Comment 11) : I did enjoy the backfiring of the Pumas tactic to stand off the maul completely.

    But yeah I’m also interested to see if any laws are changed around this. Must admit I find it very hard to tell if a player is swimming around the sides or legitimately ended up there.

  • Comment 13, posted at 22.08.14 13:33:55 by gregkaos Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld gregkaos
  • @gregkaos (Comment 13) : you’d make a good ref, in that case

  • Comment 14, posted at 22.08.14 13:34:16 by robdylan Reply
  • @gregkaos (Comment 13) : yes that was funny!!!!

  • Comment 15, posted at 22.08.14 13:39:01 by JD Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld JD
  • @robdylan (Comment 14) : Hahaha! ok yeah I should probably rephase that to “find it *impossible” 😆

    Quite frustrating though as a huge amount of penalties come from this area. When you look at most of the mauls there seems to be about 2 or 3 transgressors on both sides. Everything from joining from the side, swimming, collapsing, truck n trailer, and changing lanes.

  • Comment 16, posted at 22.08.14 13:42:29 by gregkaos Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld gregkaos
  • @robdylan (Comment 14) : Rob it’s actually very easy everything the Sharks do is correct and within the law and everything the Cheetahs do is againsth the law and thus wrong 😉

  • Comment 17, posted at 22.08.14 13:43:34 by JD Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld JD
  • @JD (Comment 15) : Great quick thinking from Tera though. Not sure too many teams will be trying that again on us. 🙂

  • Comment 18, posted at 22.08.14 13:44:08 by gregkaos Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld gregkaos
  • @KingRiaan (Comment 12) : U mean on the rare occassion we actually won our lineout and then didnt drop it??

  • Comment 19, posted at 22.08.14 14:04:47 by SheldonK Reply
  • I saw photograph in the Times of Dr Calder with Fred Z at a practice. Is she full time with the Sharks or just consulting on a now and then basis?

  • Comment 20, posted at 22.08.14 16:13:40 by Bokhoring Reply
  • Must say I did not see to much change today!!!! Is it going to happen soon?!?!?!?!?!

  • Comment 21, posted at 24.08.14 00:13:35 by JD Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld JD
  • @JD (Comment 21) : I think the first change needs to be in the coaches,they also out of their depth here,there is no proper game plan or tic tacs and that’s just for starters.

  • Comment 22, posted at 24.08.14 11:18:01 by benji Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @benji (Comment 22) : ja im getting a bit worried because the same mistakes are made by the players and there is an inability to score tries.

  • Comment 23, posted at 24.08.14 17:01:38 by JD Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld JD

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