What to expect when you’re not expecting

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 27 Nov 2015 at 11:14
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

As we look to the upcoming 2016 Super Rugby season, it’s probably a good time to start talking about expectations and managing them appropriately. I’m going to get the ball rolling by delivering the big shock right here and now. The Sharks are NOT going to win Super Rugby in 2016 and any of us that have that expectation now should change it, to save on heartache down the line.

I’m not going to go into the reasons supporting that assertion. This has been discussed and we know where we are. If anyone, of course, feels differently and can make a decent case for why we WILL win the trophy next year, by all means, try to convince me, but I think that for the most part we agree on this point. What, then, is the point? Well, I guess it depends on what kind of fan you are.

There are those who expect nothing less than the absolute best from the Sharks. Those fans, to put it bluntly, should give the Sharks a skip in 2016. There are going to be further disappointments, there are going to be games lost that should have been won, there are going to be incidents where the players and coaches let us down. If these things are going to frustrate you to the point that you won’t be able to enjoy the campaign, then really, come back and watch the Sharks again in 2017. Don’t put yourself through the agony.

For those of us who are going to watch, though, I believe there will be signs of good things to come. A large number of the fans here are realistic about the Sharks, understand why we are where we are and despite the disappointment and anger they feel towards management and players, are able to hit the reset button and start all over again with new enthusiasm for next year. There are good signs, for those willing to see them. A player clear-out means new young blood in many positions. There’s continuity of coaching in the form of Gary Gold, Sean Everitt and Ryan Strudwick, with new blood in Robert du Preez and Omar Mouneimne. There will be no “last minute handover” from one coach to another mere weeks before the competition. Hopefully, better preparation will result in better results this time around.

Oh and we got RUAN BOTHA from Western Province. He he he.

What, then should we hope to see from the Sharks in 2016? Here is my wish list, if you will.

– Better defence. The Sharks conceded 44 tries in 16 games last year, the fifth-worst in the entire competition. At an average of 2.75 tries against in a game, it’s no bloody wonder they lost so many of the things. I think it’s vital to get that concession stat closer to 2 a game. If the Sharks end the season having conceded no more than, say 35 tries, I’ll consider that a great result and proof that defensively, we are starting to get back to our best.

– Win at home. Last year, we won 5/8 games at Kings Park, for a 63% return. That’s just not good enough and we have to win 80% of our games at Kings Park. Simply put, it means we have to win 7 of our 8 home games next year. By hook or by crook, we need the team to find a way to do that.

– Better discipline. Come on, the cards and penalties this year were insane. I understand that sometimes a penalty or a card is given away in the heat of battle, but we cannot tolerate the sort of foul play we saw in 2015. Let’s hope that Gold and du Preez between the two of them (together with a younger player corps) have the teeth needed to make team discipline non-negotiable in 2016.

– Better skills. This is hard to quantify and objectively measure, but the overall level of skill on display this year has been poor. As fans, we want (and need) to see some clear evidence that this is improving week on week. We don’t demand perfection, but we do want to see progress.

– More tries. 2.3 tries a game in 2015, with just three try bonus points over 16 rounds. It really doesn’t take much to better that and if we can average 3 tries per game, and pick up 6 bonus points over 16 rounds in 2016, that will represent real, measurable improvement.

– Back form. This one is aimed at the coaches. Just pick the players who are performing, regardless of who has the bigger reputation or the most experience. We can’t afford to pick on reputation and we need to foster a culture of excellence. We’re not saying chop and change every game, but if a guy is not shaping after 3-4 games, please give someone else a chance.

– Zero turnover. I’m not talking about balls on the ground (although that would be nice)…. I’m talking about players and coaches. At the end of every campaign now for the last however many years, we’ve lost players and coaches in droves. To me, there will be clear evidence of progress and improvement in the culture and general well-being of the system if we manage to start the next campaign with the same group of players and coaches as we finish this one.

Too much to ask? What do you think?


  • Good write up Rob! I certainly dont think we or any team will win every game but i will look forward to every game (well at least try to in this crazy style comp) with the hope and belief that we can win that game. I am keen to see the new personnel in Sharks colours (also interested to see if we have an innovative jersey design). On the field id like to see the sharks team come out with a bit of attitude. I want to see us get aggressive and defend hard and well. And on attack lets be brave. Will the Sharks be perfect in 2016- hell no. Will they give us something to talk about…of that i have no doubt!

  • Comment 1, posted at 27.11.15 11:23:39 by SheldonK Reply
  • I don’t mind losing games as long as we play well and are beaten by a better team. When the defence is terrible and the discipline is poor, there is no leadership on the field as the captain is in the sin bin and when there is no commitment then I wonder why the players are getting paid because if regular folk did their job as poorly as some of the games the Sharks have played recently they would be fired.

    Now I am rather excited to see what the Sharks do this year and I am realistic in my expectations as well to know we are not going to win everything. All I really want to see from the team is commitment, discipline and playing a good game.

  • Comment 2, posted at 27.11.15 11:35:18 by lostfish Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter Competition Winner
  • I would just like to enjoy Sharks rugby next year….it was decidedly bland and painfully frustrating in 2015.

    Do the basics well, anything more will be a bonus.

  • Comment 3, posted at 27.11.15 11:35:31 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 3) : Exactly, just get the basics done play with a bit of passion, win or lose I will be happy. Happier if we win…

  • Comment 4, posted at 27.11.15 11:40:55 by lostfish Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter Competition Winner
  • @lostfish (Comment 2) : Well put.

    Discipline especially is something that is largely in the team’s control. If we see this on the field next season we can rest assured that a lot of others things in the team are healthier. I also hope the decision made regarding no play, no pay has been written into new player’s contracts as was announced earlier in the year.

    By the way, great article Rob. The only thing thing I’m still very concerned about is the new Super Rugby format next year. It’s going to suck getting excited about a Sharks team that will hopefully show some promising signs only to see the crazy format work against us.

  • Comment 5, posted at 27.11.15 11:58:50 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Even if they don’t reach the playoffs, so long as they play to potential, and show a move back to Sharks rugby I’ll be happy.

    If I wanted to watch Bulls rugby I’d support the Bulls

  • Comment 6, posted at 27.11.15 12:18:08 by Die Kriek Reply

  • Im looking forward to see what the Sharks circa 2016 can offer. Im positive. Im not so positive of the new competition, not by a long shot and the lapdogs at Boots and All did try and paint the new competition in a positive light but they with the SARU spokesman failed badly.

  • Comment 7, posted at 27.11.15 12:47:28 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • Nowadays I watch for enjoyment. If they dish up more rubbish then I will again fill my time with something that actually brings me enjoyment.

    Perhaps that makes me a fair-weather fan. But to me it until seems to be a life stage thing.

  • Comment 8, posted at 27.11.15 12:58:04 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • The sharks usually put together a good season after a disastrous one. I think 2000 was one of our all time lows just to get to the final in 2001. I’m not expecting that but just want to see the guys playing what’s in front of them, push to attack and show real heart when the pressure is on. When we win great but when we lose, go down fighting and like Mark Andrews said earlier this year make the opposition bleed for their win.

  • Comment 9, posted at 27.11.15 12:59:55 by Hulk Reply

  • Improved skills will lead to more tries, plus combined with better defense will lead to more wins.

  • Comment 10, posted at 27.11.15 13:17:04 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Big Fish (Comment 8) : That doesn’t form part of my definition of a fair-weather fan for what it’s worth. No one would accuse you of being a fair weather fan of The Beatles simply because you avoid listening to Yellow Submarine, the same standard should apply to sport too.

  • Comment 11, posted at 27.11.15 13:18:29 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @vanmartin (Comment 11) :

    I like that!

  • Comment 12, posted at 27.11.15 15:55:23 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • At a quick count about 65 experienced super rugby players from NZ, Aus and SA have moved to play in Europe. That is a lot of talent. Many teams are rebuilding, so it will be interesting. I don’t see any SA team winning the trophy next year. Way too much changes in the squads. Only the Lions are fairly settled in terms of change.

    Will be interesting to see if they can improve on last year.

  • Comment 13, posted at 27.11.15 16:37:55 by KingCheetah Reply

  • Eish for once you and I agree ,if I can just add a proper gameplan as well,and for a fleeting moment I thought ou were preganant

  • Comment 14, posted at 27.11.15 17:34:50 by benji Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • If we improve in the areas you wrote about then we shall be in the playoffs.
    I expect us to be in the finals simply because management have no more excuses left and if there is belief in the management, we are in with a shot.

  • Comment 15, posted at 27.11.15 17:48:20 by KILLER SHARK Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
  • We have to be realistic in terms of what this team can achieve next year. There was just too much pain during 2015. Last week I spoke about a top 9 finish, which isn’t even a quarter final finish, will be a difficult pill to swallow but a pass. The coaches need to ensure that they have prepared the team so well that whatever outcome comes after every 80 minutes, the fans are left with a sense of pride for their team. If we see the same shit as in 2015, the old wounds will quickly surface. And there will be havoc. The guys are going to have to use the second half of the 2012 SR campaign, CC 2010 and 2013 finals as a benchmark.

  • Comment 16, posted at 27.11.15 18:05:36 by GreatSharksays Reply

  • agreed, lets start fresh

    we look way better going into this season than in 2015 in relation to coaching stability

    lets break down our centre options, that position and hooker are possible weak spots, lock has been sorted out.

    Jordan outside and inside
    esterhuizen inside and outside
    williams inside
    sithole outside
    lambie possible inside
    JPP possible outside
    who else ?

  • Comment 17, posted at 27.11.15 19:00:27 by revolverocelot Reply

  • @revolverocelot (Comment 17) : Hooker sorted mate. I’ve been thinking about Mjekevu the entire afternoon. He has all the qualities of an outside centre. Maybe with some focused coaching he can solve our problem there. Guys like Eddie and Mitchell show just how much coaching plays a role in getting the best out of a person willing to learn.

  • Comment 18, posted at 27.11.15 19:16:37 by GreatSharksays Reply

  • @revolverocelot (Comment 17) : I think every one of us no matter what union have some hope for this coming year to see some positive change. If you look at it we are all in a rebuild. So I have hopes for SA as a whole to show some improvement over 2015 dismall showing. So here’s to us all coming out better even if we don’t get silverware in year one.

  • Comment 19, posted at 27.11.15 20:05:45 by coolfusion Reply

  • @GreatSharksays (Comment 18) : damn i completely forgot about Wandile

    he had a rough CC and got a lot of negative comments but I couldn’t fault his effort, his insanely fast for a guy that big too, im hoping he thrives in SR

  • Comment 20, posted at 27.11.15 21:03:54 by revolverocelot Reply

  • @Big Fish (Comment 8) : So true. Last season I barely went out of my day to watch the games.

  • Comment 21, posted at 27.11.15 21:20:31 by lostfish Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter Competition Winner
  • @lostfish (Comment 21) :

    Ditto – even though I could not believe that I didn’t even want to watch sometimes!

  • Comment 22, posted at 27.11.15 21:58:53 by Den Reply

  • I’m with you Rob. 100%. With the boys big improvements. Better Defence and when there is a gap go. ..let players settle and own their positions.

  • Comment 23, posted at 27.11.15 22:20:00 by Sharkfinn Reply

  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 7) : why “circa” 2016? What’s approximate about 2016? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Comment 24, posted at 27.11.15 22:27:42 by Gold_Must_Go Reply

    Gold's Member
  • @revolverocelot (Comment 17) : Lukhanyo Am and Johan Deysel

  • Comment 25, posted at 28.11.15 08:07:07 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 25) : how is lukhanyo am going at training?dont know much about him -well,nothing to be exact ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Comment 26, posted at 28.11.15 08:25:46 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • @revolverocelot (Comment 17) : weak you say,13 has been a long problem for the Sharks going back to Steph T and without FS at 12 you have at best average centres,so how the hell can you win a SR trophy with this lot,you can’t put simply

  • Comment 27, posted at 28.11.15 09:43:44 by benji Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • I will never accept a losing Sharks team. I will never be happy with the “small improvements” from an otherwise losing team. The Sharks must look long and hard at why they’re in this position and when history repeats itself they can’t cry about it. And no, I will still be here moaning and decrying the inevitable losses. Because I expect and demand more from the Sharks. What a silly notion to simply suggest that fans stop watching their team?! Fans must demand answers, and proper action must be seen to be done. Gold and Smit have a lot to prove…

  • Comment 28, posted at 28.11.15 13:22:16 by Gold_Must_Go Reply

    Gold's Member
  • @benji (Comment 27) : I’m just trying to be positive. I’m literally living in hope. Hoping John delivers and as from yesterday hoping Rdp makes Mjekevu an outside centre with bite.

  • Comment 29, posted at 28.11.15 13:26:15 by GreatSharksays Reply

  • Forgive my lack of interest in Sharks rugby in recent months (first time I havnt watched a single Currie Cup game in a season) – I simply didnt believe in anything they had to offer on and off the field.

    So given this I have no idea what is going on at the Shark tank, so can someone tell me what Kankowski’s plans are going forward?? Is he purely playing Sevens??

  • Comment 30, posted at 28.11.15 13:37:35 by pienaar111 Reply

  • @pienaar111 (Comment 30) : for 2016 he is contracted to 7’s so will only play 15’s if he’s not needed by 7’s team. Where he plays 15’s will depend on his bosses namely SARU.

  • Comment 31, posted at 28.11.15 13:49:03 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • @JD (Comment 31) : My understanding with Kanko is that he is still contracted to the Sharks, they released him to play 7s so if he is not needed by the 7s team he is returned to the Sharks. This is different to the players that are only centrally contracted by SARU as is the case with most of the regular 7s squad, they can be used as SARU wishes.

  • Comment 32, posted at 29.11.15 01:59:20 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Dancing Bear
  • Sharks fans should expect as little as possible.
    They will have a tough time topping their group against the Lions or the Argies and the wild card spot is unlikely to go to Africa 2, because they have to play the Kiwi teams this year.
    On the Africa 1 side, the Stormers would likely top the group, with the Bulls getting the wild-card spot, based on their easier Aussie schedule.
    My prediction for the play-offs:
    1 NZ winner
    2 Aus winner
    3 Africa 1 (Stormers)
    4 Africa 2 (Arg)
    5 NZ
    6 Aus
    7 NZ
    8 Africa 2 (Bulls)

    That is, unless the Japanese team manages to contract a squad filled with national players. Then only 1 SA team may make it into the play-offsโ€ฆโ€ฆ..Imagine the outrage.

  • Comment 33, posted at 29.11.15 16:05:23 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @benji (Comment 27) : though I always hope we in with a chance of winning super rugby im not so certain we can this year but i do feel we stand a good chance of playing better than we did last season

    your being way too pessimistic

    we have young promising options, i feel we lack experience some whats at centre but im encouraged by the ability and potential of all our options

    not writing them off in nov of the preceding year

    beside there are many position all over the park all teams have weaknesses some where. Saying we have poor centres without mentioning that that stormers have poors depth at loose forward, or that the bulls lack experience in there squad in general is being harsh

  • Comment 34, posted at 29.11.15 19:26:26 by revolverocelot Reply

  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 32) : nah, Ryan is no longer contracted to the Sharks. As of 2016, he’s contracted directly to SARU

  • Comment 35, posted at 29.11.15 20:59:43 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @revolverocelot (Comment 20) : @GreatSharksays (Comment 18) : @revolverocelot (Comment 17) : wandile outside marius louw inside?

  • Comment 36, posted at 29.11.15 22:50:58 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 35) : really hope Ryan can find his mojo at the 7’s as I really rated him when he started and would love to see him playing for the Sharks with his old form!!!!

  • Comment 37, posted at 29.11.15 23:02:38 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • @JD (Comment 37) : Both Kanko and Hougaard are players that i feel havnt given all that they can to SA rugby. Both hugely talented but perhaps not as focussed as needs be. Hopefully they can rejuvenate themselves through the 7s.

  • Comment 38, posted at 30.11.15 08:29:09 by SheldonK Reply

  • @JD (Comment 37) :
    Kanko’s best days are behind him. Frankly, I am glad he is off the Sharks’ books because he didnt seem to have his heart in it anymore.

  • Comment 39, posted at 30.11.15 11:20:48 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 39) : at his best,kanko was superb.would even put him in my best sharks xv ahead of teich.wishing him all the best with the 7s .time to invest game time in van der walt and tera.

  • Comment 40, posted at 30.11.15 11:58:18 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 35) : coud you put up a page with all the contracted sharks players ( u19s ,u21s and senior teams) ,and those part of training squad,please?and update it as players are added/released?

  • Comment 41, posted at 30.11.15 12:54:36 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • @50shadesofshark (Comment 41) : I can try – hard to do juniors cos the Sharks don’t really release that info.

  • Comment 42, posted at 30.11.15 16:54:37 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 42) : thanks rob!would be great if you could.thanks for all the effort you put in.much appreciated!

  • Comment 43, posted at 30.11.15 17:30:11 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 38) : @Big Fish (Comment 39) : ja must say think both players can do with a change just hope they can deliver better results with this change of teams!?!?

  • Comment 44, posted at 30.11.15 18:15:07 by JD Reply
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