Richard Ferguson

Counting the minutes

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 22 Mar 2016 at 13:11
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Four rounds have been played in the 2016 edition of Super Rugby, can you believe, and would you believe me if I told you that the Sharks players collectively have already notched up 4800 minutes on the park. Don’t believe me?

Think about it, 15 players on the field of play (without any yellow cards for Sharks to date) each playing 80 minutes quickly gets you to 1200 collective minutes per match.

So far this season the Sharks have been lucky in terms of injury rotation and that can be seen in the minor tweaks and changes happening every week. That said, only 5 players in the Sharks setup have played every minute of the season so far.

Those five are Ettienne Oosthuizen, Marcell Coetzee, Joe Pietersen, Andre Esterhuizen and Paul Jordaan.

What is positive is that our centre pair has had 640 minutes on the park to get their combination right, while they would have fed off Joe Pietersen for all of their time on the field. That can only be good for the Sharks, but it would be detrimental should one of them get injured, obviously. Injuries are part of the game, but playing every single minute does make it more likely.

I would never go as far as to say that one player works harder than another, but surely being a forward on the park for all 80 minutes really gets to you, and you have to commend Marcell and Ettienne for their play so far. The big question is, when are they going to get a rest, and how much of a rest will it be. A rest in my mind is less effective if you still have to come off the bench later in the game, but can the Sharks afford to completely leave either of these players out of the match 23 altogether?

That brings me to my next point. Not much has been said about this in the media, so we can assume it is not going to happen this year, but the enforced rest for SARU contracted players must be mentioned. There has been no planning for this from our man Gary Gold, simply because if this was to happen, both Beast Mtawarira and Coenie Oosthuizen would have to miss the next match, against the Crusaders of all teams. So we can safely assume that this is not a requirement this year.

Why not is my first reaction? Surely the players who are expected to play against Ireland later in the year and then go onto face the other teams from the Top 4 in the world in the Rugby Championship need to have a breather somewhere. The only answer there is that SARU don’t know who is going to play, so how do you enforce rest? They don’t even know who is going to coach the team 2 months before their matches! So the new coach, whoever he may be, will not only have limited time with his new players to prepare, but he will also have tired players in need of serious rest.

Anyway, I am going off course here.

The only other player worth a mention in terms of game time so far this season:

Beast Mtawarira – 300 minutes at an average of 75 per game

He could be in need of a bit of a break, but as captain of the team, we can understand the need for him to be on the field for as long as he is. Especially given that so few games this season have been clear cut results with 20 minutes to go.

It will be very interesting to keep track of the playing time of the players over the next few weeks, especially as the coaches have to weigh up rest with continuity as well as planning for what is sure to be a tricky few weeks away from home. Good luck Gary, it can’t be easy.


  • Had not realised that Joe has not been subbed to date. I assume April’s brief appearances have been as a sub for Willie then?

  • Comment 1, posted at 22.03.16 13:29:04 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Yes must agree Marcell and Ettienne have been super so far. Just hope they can keep it up as the Sharks will need huge games from both if that want to beat the Saders!!!!

  • Comment 2, posted at 22.03.16 13:31:51 by JD Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 1) : yes.

  • Comment 3, posted at 22.03.16 13:32:18 by JD Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 1) :

    Correct, Garth April has played 19 minutes, and those are the 19 minutes the Willie is missing to have played 320.

  • Comment 4, posted at 22.03.16 13:34:59 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 4) : In other words, if Joe picks up an injury our replacement has a total of 19 minutes of Super Rugby behind his name. I can understand why it’s worked out this way but it’s far from ideal. Did we miss an opportunity to give April more game time against the Kings?

  • Comment 5, posted at 22.03.16 13:39:17 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 5) :

    I honestly think we are simply waiting for Lambie to return without thinking too much about April and his game time.

    I think we are using Joe as much as we are using Beast, simply as we need him on the field..

  • Comment 6, posted at 22.03.16 13:45:06 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • I cant see Gold straying too far from his preferred 15 for this home game. I think he is also probably hoping a few of the injured forwards can return soon so that he can rotate a bit there. As for the backs…that Pieterson miss will haunt him until he gets his next kick so hopefully that happens early in the game. Im not sue of the exact fixtures but i fee we could see some rotation after this game…

  • Comment 7, posted at 22.03.16 13:47:02 by SheldonK Reply

  • @vanmartin (Comment 5) : @Richard Ferguson (Comment 6) : personally would have like April to have had a lot more game time against the Kings. Really hope Beast, Joe, Marcell or Ettienne does not get injured soon as they do not currently have match fit replacements!

  • Comment 8, posted at 22.03.16 13:52:51 by JD Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 7) : yes think he will not include any new players in the match 23 except maybe Thomas.

  • Comment 9, posted at 22.03.16 13:55:43 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 9) : DuToit for Schoeman, yeh perhaps depending how he went in his game on the weekend

  • Comment 10, posted at 22.03.16 14:00:00 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 10) :

    Its not like Schoeman is raking in the minutes either… 19 minutes over 4 matches so far..

  • Comment 11, posted at 22.03.16 14:03:22 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 6) : makes sense but if that’s the case, it’s the type of short-term thinking I specifically don’t want to see from our coaches. Another (much) more remote possibility is that Willie is considered first backup to Joe and April will slot in at fullback and take over place-kicking responsibilities.

  • Comment 12, posted at 22.03.16 14:04:21 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 8) : Hence I find the releasing of a player like Bothma confusing. Have you guys noticed that Portgieter is marked as a lock on the Sharks webite? Keegan can play 6. Also read that Deysel is in the shape of his life so maybe we won’t be that exposed. Hope Gold gets a better balance in the loose forwards this weekend. Marcel, Jean-Luc/Deysel and Phillip.

  • Comment 13, posted at 22.03.16 14:05:28 by GreatSharksays Reply

  • @GreatSharksays (Comment 13) : must say I also find it strange as a lot of our loosies are injured but have decided to let it go. Let’s hope they got it right and will not regret their decision.

  • Comment 14, posted at 22.03.16 14:11:48 by JD Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 10) : @Richard Ferguson (Comment 11) : Nothing against Schoeman but he’s untested at this level and I’d prefer a player like Thomas to replace Beast.

  • Comment 15, posted at 22.03.16 14:13:29 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 15) :


  • Comment 16, posted at 22.03.16 14:17:39 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 15) : Schoeman hasnt had much game time but in the time he has had i think he has been fairly decent. Nothing exceptional but late in the game its hard to really notice a prop being outstanding unless there are a lot of scrums. Would be interesting to hear how the Sharks XV did on the weekend…some good players got gametime

  • Comment 17, posted at 22.03.16 14:18:16 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 17) : think they lost again so not sure how well the guys performed. For Schoeman it’s going to be hard as he will be compared with Beast and co so he will really have to perform to empress.

  • Comment 18, posted at 22.03.16 15:05:58 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 18) : They lost again?? to Border? Eish

  • Comment 19, posted at 22.03.16 15:41:05 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 17) : @JD (Comment 18) : Do either of you have a teamsheet?

    I didn’t even know that they had played.

  • Comment 20, posted at 22.03.16 15:50:17 by ChrisS Reply
  • @ChrisS (Comment 20) : I did see one…cant remember where. Will try find again…

  • Comment 21, posted at 22.03.16 15:57:39 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 21) : Its on the Sharks fb age which i cant seem to get at the moment…

  • Comment 22, posted at 22.03.16 16:03:20 by SheldonK Reply

  • heres hoping that the new boys are not intimindated by last years poor result (52-10) and perform with a fresh new attitude

  • Comment 23, posted at 22.03.16 16:18:38 by Papabear Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 19) : I hate to criticise a team who are trying there best, but in this case, losing to Border is not acceptable. Border are terrible and would often be beaten by Old Selbornians Club side. I would have expected the XV side to comfortably win – I hope the senior guys are able to take the competition seriously, otherwise there are going to be some embarrassing results.

  • Comment 24, posted at 22.03.16 16:19:05 by Vonno13 Reply
  • @SheldonK (Comment 22) : @ChrisS (Comment 20) : from the Sharks FB. Good luck to the CellC Sharks XV for their warm-up match against Border in Kokstad today.
    Similar to last week, the format will be 30 minute chukka’s.
    1.Mzamo Majola
    2. Andrew Du Plessis
    3.Thomas Du Toit
    4.Wian Vosloo
    5.TJ Univee
    6.Khaya Majola
    7.Johan Du Toit
    8.Ayron Schramm
    9.Dylann Marcus
    10.Inny- Christian Radebe
    11.Wandile Mjekevu
    12.Sandile Kubeka
    13.Nkululeko Marawana
    14.Neil Maritz
    15.Alrin Eksteen
    Dale Chadwick
    Barend Potgieter
    Gerhard Engelbrecht
    Chris De Beer
    Wade Elliot
    Ray Williams
    Giant Mtyanda
    Marcell Coetzee
    Jose Rodrigues
    Matthew Albrough
    Date: 19 March 2016
    Kick-off: 17:00
    Venue: Kokstad Rugby Club

  • Comment 25, posted at 22.03.16 16:48:34 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • News reports have Elton Jantjies being out for 12 weeks with an operation needed, next report has it at 2 weeks with no op. 😯

  • Comment 26, posted at 22.03.16 16:50:44 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 25) : Marcell Coetzee?

  • Comment 27, posted at 22.03.16 17:09:47 by Ben Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 25) : @Ben (Comment 27) : Must be Marcel Coetzee.

  • Comment 28, posted at 22.03.16 17:10:36 by Ben Reply
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  • Sharks can’t afford to rest big time players against saiders

  • Comment 29, posted at 22.03.16 17:16:54 by ettas Reply

  • @Ben (Comment 27) : think that he plays centre wing, still young

  • Comment 30, posted at 22.03.16 17:18:15 by Vonno13 Reply
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 26) : that will be a massive loss, he is an important cog in how the Lions play

  • Comment 31, posted at 22.03.16 17:19:02 by Vonno13 Reply
  • @Ben (Comment 27) : @Ben (Comment 28) : @Vonno13 (Comment 30) : yes it’s Marcel with one “l”. Plays centre.

  • Comment 32, posted at 22.03.16 17:30:31 by JD Reply
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  • @Vonno13 (Comment 24) : yes I know it’s only a wameup game but that team should beat Border!!!

  • Comment 33, posted at 22.03.16 17:32:19 by JD Reply
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  • @ettas (Comment 29) : don’t think any players will be rested against Saders!!!

  • Comment 34, posted at 22.03.16 17:33:08 by JD Reply
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  • @Vonno13 (Comment 30) : @JD (Comment 32) : Yup, I know who he is.

  • Comment 35, posted at 22.03.16 18:33:38 by Ben Reply
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  • I hadnt really studied the schedule that closely before the start of the season, but now that we’re going into a tough phase I had a look at ours compared to the other sa teams.

    And yes playing the NZ teams isnt ideal, but atleast it rotates year by year

    having said that, wow, we’re in for a hectic few weeks and a long tour, we better make use of our whole squad and now play people into the ground, i would even leave okes in sa and tell them that they gotta get mentally focused to take on the jaguares in Arg

    Ots shaping up to be a tough season of super rugby for us

  • Comment 36, posted at 22.03.16 19:20:35 by revolverocelot Reply

  • @revolverocelot (Comment 36) : yeah our schedule is crazy. I doubt we could leave players in SA with the intention to get mentally prepared for the Jaguars because our tour overseas is 3 weeks long. They’d lose match fitness and sharpness in that time!

    If it’s affordable and possible I’d definitely consider taking an extended squad overseas comprising two core squads. For a little over a month deploy a bit of a squad rotation system and get clever with departure and return flights to minimise travel.

    For example, core players in our first two games against Blues and Highlanders can return home before the Chiefs game to prepare for the home Hurricanes game, while ‘core’ players against the Chiefs stay on and return home for a rest weekend and they will form the bulk of the team against the Jaguars the weekend after the Hurricanes game. Maybe even have the Chiefs ‘core’ be the core who play the Lions in Jhb before the tour and have them come over to NZ a little later.

    I’m talking a handful of players not an entire team.

    We sure as shit need to do something though because you cannot play the same players in Jhb, Auckland, Dunedin, Hamilton, Durban and Buenos Aires on successive weekends.

    Lions – core team 1
    Blues – core team 2
    Highlanders – core team 2
    Chiefs – core team 1
    Hurricanes – core team 2
    Jaguars – core team 1

    Have those players training in those core teams now, getting used to combos etc. We have a large enough squad to get creative.

  • Comment 37, posted at 22.03.16 19:47:13 by Sharks_have_Character! Reply

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  • @Sharks_have_Character! (Comment 37) : don’t forget Kings in Durban after the Jaguers.
    Don’t think they’re allowed to take so many players.

  • Comment 38, posted at 22.03.16 20:31:45 by JD Reply
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  • @Sharks_have_Character! (Comment 37) : @robdylan did a a post on this.comments and suggestions on there.

  • Comment 39, posted at 22.03.16 20:36:02 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • It’s a tough call seeing as this is a home game and it’s the crusaders but I think rotating and resting is better done early especially with pairings where the risk is losing the continuity and connection the guys made. I would sib and rest now if the worst happens we can make up points since it’s early stages but we cannot mid season build another working combo.

  • Comment 40, posted at 23.03.16 07:19:19 by coolfusion Reply

  • @Vonno13 (Comment 24) : Losing to Border is indeed a very big concern. The Border region is basically bankrupt. Im actually surprised they are able to field a team. So losing to them in our part of the world is really not a good result at all. It definitely casts doubt over how good or motivated the guys are that were in that team. Or maybe we should just blame the coach…

  • Comment 41, posted at 23.03.16 08:16:00 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 41) : I am afraid you can’t blame a coach for that kind of loss – the coach can only do so much, once on the field, it is up to the players. I have heard that the above team named was not the actual team that played, a few guys were not available due to injury. But still, losing to Border is not on, they are a terrible side, basically a club side.

    Lets see how the qualifiers go

  • Comment 42, posted at 23.03.16 09:11:10 by Vonno13 Reply
  • @Vonno13 (Comment 42) : Yeh look irrespective who played they would by and large all be contracted players. So to lose to a team like Border who were bottom of the logs last year in the Vodacom Cup etc is really a bad sign. And i believe Griquas handed our side a hiding the week before too. I really do hope its a motivation thing more than anything.

  • Comment 43, posted at 23.03.16 09:38:01 by SheldonK Reply

  • @Vonno13 (Comment 42) : @SheldonK (Comment 43) : yes lost 2 from 2. Really hope they tried out stuff and that when the competition start they will do way better!!!

  • Comment 44, posted at 23.03.16 09:41:46 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 44) : I hope the stuff they tried out was not no tackling. There really should be no excuse for these guys…majority are contracted professionals. Losing to a team like Border is unacceptable.

  • Comment 45, posted at 23.03.16 09:57:18 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 45) : sad but true!!!

  • Comment 46, posted at 23.03.16 10:06:42 by JD Reply
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