Stakes are high for Sharks

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 26 Feb 2018 at 16:12
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

It’s week 3 of Super Rugby and the Sharks are just about to settle on a starting team for only their second game; already, though, the pressure is on for Robert du Preez and his team as they aim to keep up with the early pace-setters in the South African conference.

With a run of home games, the Lions are opening up a decent lead; they’ve got 9 points from two games and will look to further consolidate when they take on the high-riding Bulls this weekend. The fact that one of those teams has to lose is good news for the Sharks. A double-edged sword for them was the strange result in Sydney that saw a dominant Stormers side somehow lose to the so-so Waratahs. On the one hand, it pegs the Stormers back a little on the log, but on the other, it has given the Waratahs, whom the Sharks play on Saturday, more confidence than would be ideal.

While the Sharks may look at the Stormers’ early tour and see it as an opportunity to get the jump on their coastal rivals, they will know that their own tour is not too far off either and that they will need to bag crucial home points in order to withstand the inevitable “log attrition” that comes with losing games on the road. Any relief that comes from anticipated defeats for the Bulls and Stormers this coming weekend is likely to be short-lived if the Sharks themselves don’t capitalise by soundly beating the Waratahs.

And therein lies the problem. For, if we’re honest, the Sharks really shouldn’t be entertaining any thoughts of losing to this Waratahs team, given what we have in our squad this year compared to them. It should be a one-horse race, that *that* scrum meltdown in Johannesburg has opened up a crack and how they respond to that question will say a lot about the Sharks. It starts with selection – does the coach stick to his guns and pick the same team, or does he react (or panic) and make changes? It’s a catch-22 situation, because there are going to be people slating him either way.

For what it’s worth, I’d go with the “shot at redemption” narrative this week and give (mostly) the same starting team an opportunity to redeem themselves. The Waratahs do not boast the most formidable pack on the planet and I’d certainly back the Sharks tight five to hold their own and perhaps even pick up some confidence in the process. Starting Beast Mtawarira ahead of Juan Schoeman is, I’d think, a no-brainer, but on the other side of the scrum, I’d give Thomas du Toit another go, but be prepared to make an early (and seismic) replacement if it proves necessary.

Whatever the case, though, time is running out for the Sharks to get into the competition and start moving up the log. The time for self-doubt and talking about potential is over; we need to win properly this weekend.


  • Absolutely well put. This is already a pressure game in the bigger scheme of things, and we need to comprehensively put the hammer down on the Waratahs, anything less and the “faithful” will be out in droves baying for blood.
    High stakes indeed, I agree with your selection, my personal selection being very similar with Beast coming in, and the Keegan for Dan, and Tera on the bench.

  • Comment 1, posted at 26.02.18 16:33:04 by Richard Reply
  • @Richard (Comment 1) : oh yeah of course. I meant to say that Keegan would naturally start.

  • Comment 2, posted at 26.02.18 16:37:36 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • There’s no way I would start with the tank again.There’s no room for error this saturday. Id start meyer and beast with thomas coming on for the last 20.

  • Comment 3, posted at 26.02.18 16:44:00 by tigershark Reply

  • @tigershark (Comment 3) : it’s also a completely defensible position

  • Comment 4, posted at 26.02.18 17:08:07 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Hey Rob. How good of a tighthead is Hubert Meyer? Dont know much about him but he seems like quite a big oke. Why wasnt he the first choice any way?

  • Comment 5, posted at 26.02.18 17:11:27 by tigershark Reply

  • Wouldn’t it serve The Tank better to play him off the bench for a few games scrumming against the “second choice” props? Although the Tahs don’t have a great front row and Rob Simmons isn’t touring which means they are down to their second choice #5 lock.

    But just a question

  • Comment 6, posted at 26.02.18 17:20:17 by Baylion Reply

  • According to the experts it can take 2-3 years to switch from LH to TH. So for me the qeustion isnt how fast we can get thomas settled but rather to have a look what we have in the other tightheads.

  • Comment 7, posted at 26.02.18 17:23:38 by tigershark Reply

  • @tigershark (Comment 3) : I wonder if Akker will start as well?

  • Comment 8, posted at 26.02.18 17:37:44 by coolfusion Reply

  • @tigershark (Comment 7) : Which we have to do anyways. Coenie won’t last forever

  • Comment 9, posted at 26.02.18 17:38:35 by coolfusion Reply

  • @coolfusion (Comment 8) : I personally think they will go with Franco as he is a more settled choice with Beast. Akker seems to be more of a energy infusion in the last quarter.

  • Comment 10, posted at 26.02.18 17:44:26 by tigershark Reply

  • @tigershark (Comment 10) : Depends on who settles first with the “new” rules. Personally think Akker brings more urgency and intensity.

  • Comment 11, posted at 26.02.18 17:47:01 by coolfusion Reply

  • @coolfusion (Comment 11) : Either one should do okay. We just need a proper scrum so we can get that backline going. Man they were looking dangerous before the scrums started affecting the whole game.

  • Comment 12, posted at 26.02.18 17:53:22 by tigershark Reply

  • @tigershark (Comment 7) : But, is that a yes then for Thomas to be made a TH or to rather look at other “settled” THs?
    If it takes 2-3 yrs, then as much game time in that position is necessary in my opinion. If the goal is to make Thomas a pure TH. It took a while but eventually Percy Montgomery became an excellent FB…..if I am allowed to compare apples with pears.

  • Comment 13, posted at 26.02.18 18:00:10 by JustPlainSHARK Reply

  • @JustPlainSHARK (Comment 13) : Its a difficult one. What should have been a short term solution might well become a long term project for the coaches on this one. I think he’ll do okay against the weaker srumming sides but he will definitely struggle against the better ones.

  • Comment 14, posted at 26.02.18 18:07:55 by tigershark Reply

  • @JustPlainSHARK (Comment 13) : Percy went overseas and came back a different player. TtT needs game time yes but not thrown in against the first choice looseheads

  • Comment 15, posted at 26.02.18 19:30:37 by Baylion Reply

  • I personally hope Thomas gets another go at it. We can’t just give up on him.
    Only way he will get better is by playing there. Beast was an 8th man I think and deon castens helped him along in the scrumming department early on. Coeni might be injured but there’s no reason he can’t help thomas

  • Comment 16, posted at 26.02.18 20:59:09 by Poisy Reply
  • The Sharks management has openly said that they are backing Thomas as a tighthead, period. They will persist with him in that position, so they will have to ensure that the scrum functions, and that they work as a unit, with Thomas taking the responsibility and working hard on the areas that need working hard on. I am not a great fan of this idea yet, but The Sharks and Thomas are sticking to it, and we are exposed for depth in that position. Quality tightheads are a very, very rare commodity…

  • Comment 17, posted at 27.02.18 08:57:25 by Richard Reply

  • @Richard (Comment 17) : Thomas and the forwards coach will have to become street smart very quickly or at least improve in that area drastically. The oke that turns red very quickly looked like he was able to walk around Thomas too easily in the last game and with the ref on the LH side, he got away with it too easily. I am expecting a lot more such tactics as the Aus teams have always been able to push boundaries to make up for lack of grunt.

    It took Coenie almost two seasons to get himself also sorted in these tactics and tricks, so Thomas will improve but I am expecting some more pain though. Here we want the entire pack to be more in tune with each other and how to get the ball out and to the backs as quick as possible.

    Looking forward to the game as that losing BP we picked up will become valuable very quickly

  • Comment 18, posted at 27.02.18 09:37:18 by Kabouter Reply

  • @Kabouter (Comment 18) : Scrumming is a team thing too and Schoeman also had a very disappointing outing against a guy who we know has issues with technique. Keen to see how Tom goes with Beast on the opposite side.

  • Comment 19, posted at 27.02.18 09:40:07 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • The Sharks should have called in Balie Swart for some assistance over the past two weeks. Thomas clearly struggled but the entire Sharks scrumming effort looks very uncoordinated.

  • Comment 20, posted at 27.02.18 09:44:19 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Kabouter (Comment 18) : Well if they keep starting with Thomas and he keeps struggeling it might cost us the season. I believe it already cost us a game. Think we could have taken the lions if not for the poor scrums which took all our momentum away. And im not bashing Thomas. He’s an awesome player. I actually fear that this will also negate some of his ball carrying ability. Tightheads are usually quiter than LH’s for some reason in general play.

  • Comment 21, posted at 27.02.18 09:49:04 by tigershark Reply

  • Yeah Beast on the other side will definitely help a lot, this weekend we will see what we have done with our bye week.
    I am sure the forwards would have been working hard on this, with Beast and Coenie (surely present at practice) sharing a lot of knowledge and experience, and the entire pack working as one.

    I am feeling quite nervous and unsettled about this game, on paper we are a better team, but we have to send the Waratahs packing, we need a ferocious and intense game – blow them off the park with a power game, giving the backs quick ball to work with.

  • Comment 22, posted at 27.02.18 09:49:18 by Richard Reply

  • @Richard (Comment 17) : That’s good news if that’s the case. But I hope he doesn’t do a marcel on us and when he gets good and is a world beater he fucks off to Europe leaving us to start again. I really hate it when that happens, northern teams treat our sharks as a spaza shop and it’s time people honoured they contracts to the full!

  • Comment 23, posted at 27.02.18 09:52:35 by Poisy Reply
  • @Richard (Comment 22) : Any idea why chili is no where near the team?

  • Comment 24, posted at 27.02.18 09:55:03 by Poisy Reply
  • The switch for Thomas might take a while, but sooner or later it will click for him. Just look at Coenie. 2 years ago we were all wondering if he will ever make a good tighthead and now it’s a major setback for us that he got injured. Mot saying start with him over and over if he continues to struggle, but I do believe back him some more and then give him more time from the bench if he really struggles. He didn’t look that bad against racing.
    @Poisy (Comment 24) : Do you think it still has something to do with what happened at the end of last year? It is very difficult to accommodate 3 good players if the rotation policy wasn’t clearly explained to all of them.

  • Comment 25, posted at 27.02.18 10:20:35 by HeinF Reply

  • @Poisy (Comment 24) : Chiliboy went with to Hong Kong and played in the warm-ups, so in my mind, he is the 3rd choice hooker, given the length of the tournament, he will definitely play a role. European contracts are a big issue, but let’s hope that for the foreseeable future our boys stay committed to the cause. Thomas strikes me a Sharks man through and through, with the legend going that when recruiters pitched up at his family farm, he and his Dad were wearing Sharks jerseys.

  • Comment 26, posted at 27.02.18 10:22:28 by Richard Reply

  • Looking at the Scotland England aftermath, it is clear the breakdown is still very much a huge part of the game, England back 3 were cumbersome and although a juggernaut with ball in hand, it means nought if you are beaten to the breakdown 13 times and have that ball turned over. Considering the makeup of our loose trio, we will have to strike that balance well, especially when both twins are fit. Players like, Vermeulen, Philip and Keegs still have a very big say in this matter. We did well in the Ellis Park game, although we don’t have an out and out fetcher, we need to ensure we get to the breakdown quickly and aggressively – I would like to see The Waratahs momentum halted at the breakdown. It’s going to be a very different type of game to that faced against The Lions.

  • Comment 27, posted at 27.02.18 10:29:39 by Richard Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 19) : yip, that was a bomb and we should have put as much pressure on Dreyer as Thomas got.

    Seems we had the stronger Adriaanse but now the weaker Schoeman. The whole scrummaging unit need to step up and deliver constantly. We lost our last three competitive games due to poor scrums and this needs to be stopped asap. Pity Herbst could not be brought back when Coenie went down

    Lineouts were good and we should continue against the Tahs, but need similar destruction as the Stormers created in scrums to build confidence and send a message to refs and rest of the competition.

  • Comment 28, posted at 27.02.18 11:21:37 by Kabouter Reply

  • As they say: Back you boyjies…and thats exactly what im gonna do. Injuries/illness aside im hoping RDP can name a same/similar team to the one he named for the Lions game. Beast should definitely start and hoping Daniel can too.

  • Comment 29, posted at 27.02.18 12:43:01 by SheldonK Reply

  • I’d like to see largely the same team. I would keep Thomas but rotate Beast in. Hopefully this makes the desired change but if we’re still struggling then next week it’s time to put Thomas on the bench and let him learn from there. My only other change would be move Nkosi to left wing and bring van Wyk back into the starting XV. Yes that may be hard on Mapimpi but his defensive woes are in my opinion a huge chink in our armour and there is no point having defensive walls in the mid-field if we give up those yards on the wing.

    Regarding the loosies, I feel our big guys do well at the start but as the game goes on and becomes more loose we struggle to secure the ball at the rucks. Now as harsh as this is I feel Keegan and Akker operating late in the second half at least puts faster / more dynamic forwards on the field and we simply can not be without them then. So Akker to stay on the bench for now and if Keegan can’t stay on the full game, only consider him on the bench. So my starting loosies would be Philip, Vermuelen and Terra (as an enforced change).

  • Comment 30, posted at 27.02.18 14:18:10 by Hulk Reply

  • @Hulk (Comment 30) : Totally agree with you on bringing van Wyk back into the starting line-up.He’s in such good form and Mapimpi would be much better in the last 20/30mins of the game if we are in the lead. His defense does need some work too.

    I hope Keegs gets a start though, we needed someone like him in our game against the Lions. Akker off the bench is great, line-outs a bit rusty but I’m sure he’ll get it right next time around.

  • Comment 31, posted at 27.02.18 14:27:20 by Quintin Reply

  • @Quintin (Comment 31) : I’d also love to see Keegan get a start but I feel he’d be of more value to a winning effort at the back end and on that alone is why I’d bench him. A Jacques Botes would be great right about now.

  • Comment 32, posted at 27.02.18 14:59:14 by Hulk Reply

  • I hope they’ve used the bye week to work on our wing defense and the scrum. It’s our only weak points, please gods let them have worked on them. We can’t afford to have such a brilliant team and lose games through no one fixing the problems so easily identified.

  • Comment 33, posted at 27.02.18 15:50:42 by Mephisto_Shark Reply

  • Given the injuries to our loosies, I’d expect Keegan to wear the number 8 jersey and expect to see Tera on the bench for this week, with Tyler Paul covering as a tight forward, his usual position, as a result – Hyron Andrews falls out of my squad.
    Beast will definitely slot into the number 1 jersey, and Thomas is being backed at number 3 – but expect a much better scrum from the entire unit. We cannot lose our 4th successive competitive match due to a misfiring setpiece – the most important setpiece there is!
    I back our wings to start the match as they were, and given that Van Wyk offers versatility he will be on the bench, along with Curwin. Post this result we can see how the team changes if needs be.
    I trust Cameron Wright has passed his Concussion return to play protocol and hope to see Schreuder on the bench, who could be recovered – or at least Michael Claasens.
    I think Akker is the epitome of an impact super sub and look forward to him coming off the bench, I hope Kerron van Vuuren is putting pressure on the hookers for a place in the team, as he has fantastic physical attributes, standing in at 1.88m and 104 kilos.

    I am not overly confident about this game, but hopefully The Sharks click in this game and build some much needed confidence, momentum and self belief.

  • Comment 34, posted at 27.02.18 15:59:20 by Richard Reply

  • @Richard (Comment 34) : In full agreement with you, in my view it also depends on who you are playing against, there might be an argument for 2 loose forwards which are a bit more pacy on the bench, for example have a Mtembu and a Wian Vosloo on the bench, someone like Vermeulen can move to Lock late in the 2nd half, obviously if the opposition has a strong scrum one cannot take that route.

  • Comment 35, posted at 27.02.18 17:30:01 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Hopefully this team on the weekend,

    01 – Beast
    02 – Marais
    03 – Tank
    04 – Lewies
    05 – Ruan Capt
    06 – Phillip
    07 – Vermeulen
    08 – Daniel
    09 – Wright
    10 – Rob jr
    11 – Nkosi
    12 – Esterhuizen
    13 – Am
    14 – Van Wyk
    15 – Mvovo

    16 – Akker
    17 – Schoeman
    18 – Meyer
    19 – Mtembu
    20 – Vosloo who is a Flank but also a 4 lock? No 4 Lock Feb 15, 1995 1.95m 112kg
    21 – Schreuder/Claassens
    22 – Curwin
    23 – Mapimpi

    I am not sure if the Tahs scrum is strong this year or not? If stronger than i think then well have Paul replace Vosloo, Vosloo not that tall and when I saw him play he was very good but at flank? maybe Rob can tell us more about this kid.

  • Comment 36, posted at 27.02.18 17:48:11 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @Richard (Comment 27) : England didn’t look too hot against Italy either

  • Comment 37, posted at 27.02.18 19:00:28 by coolfusion Reply

  • @Hulk (Comment 30) : I’ve been saying van wyk should start and give mapimpi time to settle at impact.

  • Comment 38, posted at 27.02.18 19:01:39 by coolfusion Reply

  • @Poisy (Comment 23) : That unfortunately isnot something you can guard against. Play the cards you are dealt and all that.

  • Comment 39, posted at 27.02.18 19:04:07 by coolfusion Reply

  • @Hulk (Comment 30) : I feel differently. Akker Keegan to start early and set a pace be physical. Then when their stars have taken the toll of a full match they will be easier to contain later.

  • Comment 40, posted at 27.02.18 19:09:16 by coolfusion Reply

  • I honestly believe that this tighthead regime with Thomas du Toit is going to cost the Sharks big time. If you insist on backing him at tighthead then send him back to the Super Rugby Challenge or Club Rugby to develop as a tighthead. I can’t believe the Sharks are willing to do this, gamble a whole season just because some people want Thomas to play tighthead

  • Comment 41, posted at 27.02.18 22:05:28 by Simz Cele Reply

  • @Simz Cele (Comment 41) : There is a little more to it than a few people wanting him to play TH. Thomas at TH is not a new development. If you recall he spent last off season up north working on his skills at TH. This is not the Sharks taking some wild gamble because a few people speculated about it. He has been working on this switch to TH for a couple of years now, so let’s give him a break for his terribly bad game against the Lions and give him a chance to show if he is capable at this level before writing off the entire season and his career at TH.

  • Comment 42, posted at 27.02.18 22:42:16 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Dancing Bear
  • @coolfusion (Comment 40) : A very good point, but I was finding at the end of the Lions game it wasn’t their stars stealing the ball it was just about everyone.

  • Comment 43, posted at 28.02.18 07:30:48 by Hulk Reply

  • @Poisy (Comment 23) : Your comment about Marcel is way off the mark as is your comparison his treatment to Thomas.
    Marcel never represented the province at any level as a schoolboy as he went to an unfashionable and largely ignored school, he had to pay his own way into the academy and it was only at Shaun Everett’s insistence that he was picked over the chosen glory boys, like Brynand Stander and the other groomed favourites, in his junior Sharks teams.
    Thomas as has been well documented was scouted and payed for straight out of school, very different circumstances.
    I agree with you there are a lot of ungrateful mercenary opportunists out there like PSDT ,but in my mind Marcel is not one, and I also do not think Thomas is either .
    Whatever Marcel achieved he did on his own

  • Comment 44, posted at 28.02.18 09:51:15 by The hound Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    The hound
  • Marcel Sharks at 20 and Springboks at 21

  • Comment 45, posted at 28.02.18 09:55:25 by The hound Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    The hound
  • @The hound (Comment 44) : Haven’t seen you in a while here. Welcome back.

    Agreed whole heartily, as sad as I was to see Marcel go he did do it on his own and therefore owes nothing to anyone. Would love to see him back in a Sharks jersey though (and a Springbok one for that matter).

  • Comment 46, posted at 28.02.18 10:17:25 by Hulk Reply

  • @The hound (Comment 45) : hello !

  • Comment 47, posted at 28.02.18 10:55:11 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @Hulk (Comment 46) : Always was my wish to see just one game withe Marcel Jean Luc and Dan together, sigh

  • Comment 48, posted at 28.02.18 11:43:55 by The hound Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    The hound
  • @The hound (Comment 48) : I had the same wish (granted I suspect you’ve harbored that for longer than I). Perhaps one day it will come to fruition.

  • Comment 49, posted at 28.02.18 13:35:33 by Hulk Reply

  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 42) : He’s even gone North and it’s still not working?! Exactly my point send the guy to the rugby challenge or club rugby to go work on it, let him fight it out with other tight heads in the system in KZN and that’s my biggest problem with this whole preferential treatment that Thomas is receiving, so now how many other players capable of playing tight head must wait in the system just because people are trying to see if Thomas can play tighthead. You see that’s a bit of the problem nowadays in rugby, you need to earn the jersey! Thomas hasn’t done anything to earn the No3 jersey he wears, if they want him to play tight head so badly then send him back to the rugby challenge or club rugby let him fight for it, earn it prove himself as a tighthead properly

  • Comment 50, posted at 28.02.18 17:44:11 by Simz Cele Reply

  • Marcel Coetzee great player who earned the jersey!

  • Comment 51, posted at 28.02.18 17:45:58 by Simz Cele Reply

  • @Simz Cele (Comment 50) : Hi Simz, as a tighthead prop myself, currently playing Premier division club rugby in kzn, I can guarantee that there are few to no tightheads at our level that strike fear into the hearts of opponents. So even if he goes down there, he’ll perform better than the other props, get pulled up to the Sharks and we’re back where we started

  • Comment 52, posted at 28.02.18 18:42:10 by Karl Reply

  • @The hound (Comment 44) : Maybe read the damn comment again before replying. When it comes to marcel I’m not talking about how he payed his own way etc. I’m talking about purely him being picked and afforded the chance to grow and learn by the sharks structures! No matter how he ended up there. When he finally became the finished product he fucked off to Europe ( no matter his reasons justified or not) it doesn’t change that’s what happened!!! So in my opinion he owed the sharks alil more thn what he gave eventually. He could have stayed done the Japan thing and when he was 27-28 gone to Europe to coin it like everyone else.

    That is what I’m afraid will happen to Thomas. He will come right thn leave aswell leaving us to start again.

  • Comment 53, posted at 28.02.18 19:12:34 by Poisy Reply
  • @Karl (Comment 52) : Hi Karl. If you’re telling me that Thomas is the best KZN has with regards to tight heads that’s really disappointing

  • Comment 54, posted at 28.02.18 19:25:55 by Simz Cele Reply

  • @Simz Cele (Comment 54) : Indeed

  • Comment 55, posted at 28.02.18 20:18:10 by Karl Reply

  • @Simz Cele (Comment 54) : Make that SA. We have a severe shortage of quality tightheads

  • Comment 56, posted at 28.02.18 20:38:20 by Baylion Reply

  • @Baylion (Comment 56) : And scrummies

  • Comment 57, posted at 28.02.18 20:39:31 by Baylion Reply


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