Sharksworld chats to Jaco Pienaar (Part 2)

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 1 Feb 2017 at 14:34
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

Continuing my discussion with new Sharks forward coach Jaco Pienaar (part 1 is here), we went into some specifics about the squad and the upcoming season.

With a long campaign ahead, squad depth is always a concern and while the Sharks are well covered in most position, the troublesome tight lock spot continues to worryme, with Etienne Oosthuizen standing alone as an established star in that number 4 jersey. Jaco is a little less worried, telling me, “what I’m happy with is that we have a few players that are a bit more versatile. A guy like Jacques Vermeulen, who we got from Western Province, can cover you at lock and loose forward. A guy like Ruan [Botha], even though he’s more of a 5, can cover you at 4 as well – and the same with [Stephan] Lewies. So I think we do have a few guys that are not necessarily just the 5-lock, just controlling the lineout, but they have the ability to play 4.

β€œIt is important for teams to have combinations – your three proven guys, in our case Etienne, Ruan and Lewies – but everyone is struggling a bit with fourth and fifth choices. Youngsters like Hyron Andrews and Jean Droste are doing really well, so there are a few guys we can look at

The same versatility is available in the front row and Jaco is encouraged by the options available, particularly on the crucial right-hand side of the scrum. He tells us that Lourens Adriaanse is, of course, a key man in the position, but there are other possibilities too. “We’ve been working hard with Coenie Oosthuizen at tighthead and we’ll definitely start doing the same with Thomas [du Toit], who only came back on Monday.” Finding a permanent home for du Toit, who has moved around a bit over the last few years, is important and Jaco is excited to start working with him “to see where he ends up”. Johnny Meyer is another player of whom big things are excepted. “The guys have the chance, now they must just step up!”

And what of the loose trio? Is Jaco worried about the lack of the stereotypical “genuine fetcher” amongst his options? No, not really, he says, adding “my view – and it’s not just my view – our view is that the players all need to be able to fulfil various roles. They must be able to clean out your own breakdown, they must be able to put pressure on the opposition’s breakdown. You need to have players that are multi-skilled – and that also have the ability to carry and operate in the lineout. In having a long Super Rugby season, I’m sure we’ll see a lot of different combinations and with all the options we have, it’s going to be quite exciting to see how the different combinations play out.”

Rotation is good and necessary, of course, but it can be tricky when also managing the expectations of players looking to establish themselves and perhaps push for higher honours in a specific position. “In the end, I think that will be our team’s policy,” Jaco says, “if we look at the total minutes of game time before we give a guy a break, or maybe go with a different combination to counter a different threat posed by an opposition team. That’s something that will be discussed ahead of every game – what do we want to achieve against that specific opponent and where do we want to take them on.” Horses for courses, in other words – a flexible approach given that not every team the Sharks will face will present the same sort of threat.

One thing that’s a bit different for the Sharks this year is that they have to re-integrate relatively few returning Springboks into their pre-season plans. Jaco sees the benefits, but adds, “there’s always two sides to the story, though. One the one hand, guys who go on those tours pick up that Bok experience and that’s always awesome – the boys have to step up and come back with lessons learned. On the other side, you have a bigger squad that’s been together longer in pre-season.”

And what of the Lions, arguably the benchmark side in the Sharks’ conference this year? “The Lions had a great 2016 season and they will always be a quality outfit that’s well coached, with a great forward pack – great st scrums, good in the lineouts,” Jaco admits. “They’ll be good, the only thing we can do is really focus on our own processes and focus on doing the small things a little bit better and hopefully we can be up there with them.”

Thanks again to Jaco and the Sharks for the opportunity to have a chat and we wish them well for the upcoming campaign.


  • Seems a fairly level headed guy but im not expecting too many ground breaking initiatives from him. Our forward pack may be solid be unspectacular…but ill take solid any day.

  • Comment 1, posted at 01.02.17 14:55:32 by SheldonK Reply
  • @SheldonK (Comment 1) : If we have solid set pieces and the forwards do their jobs on defence and at the rucks I’ll be bloody happy.

  • Comment 2, posted at 01.02.17 15:12:18 by Dragnipur Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Dragnipur (Comment 2) : Doing their jobs on defence and at rucks is very open to interpretation though…

  • Comment 3, posted at 01.02.17 15:15:08 by SheldonK Reply

  • Thanks for this Rob. Enjoyed the read.

  • Comment 4, posted at 01.02.17 15:25:34 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • All the forwards have to be is solid. I’d rather our lineout functions in the 80-90% range for the whole season and our scrum in the 85% and above than the forwards wanting to start being fancy and then not be able to do the basics correct.

  • Comment 5, posted at 01.02.17 15:26:46 by KingRiaan Reply

  • Thanks, Rob. I’m looking forward to seeing what we look like on the pitch in the coming weeks…

  • Comment 6, posted at 02.02.17 11:45:42 by pastorshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Administrator
  • @pastorshark (Comment 6) : Yes just a pity we have to wait till the3rd March to see it.

  • Comment 7, posted at 02.02.17 14:20:49 by The hound Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    The hound
  • Thanx Rob and Jaco for making time to do this!
    Going to be interesting to see how the Lions do this year with lots of players at Bokke and in Japan!? Personally I’m please the Sharks do not have any players returning from Japan as 95% of the squad have been together for the whole preseason training and that can only benefit the Sharks for Super rugby 2017!

  • Comment 8, posted at 02.02.17 16:29:22 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • @The hound (Comment 7) : can watch a bit tomorrow! Hope they show it again during the weekend!

  • Comment 9, posted at 02.02.17 16:31:05 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator

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