Super Rugby Preview – Sharks

Super Rugby Preview – Sharks

“He came, he saw, he banned more than one pass per backline move and thankfully he buggered the hell off.”

That’s probably how most Sharks fans would describe Jake White’s tenure in Durban.

2014 Recap

Much was made of the reunion between the World Cup winning coach and his General John Smit, now the CEO of Sharks Rugby.

White’s legacy in Durban could have been so different had he not suffered the misfortune of losing his first and second choice flyhalves to injury (Lambie and then Zeilinga). This forced him to field rookie Tim Swiel at pivot, only to settle on Frans Steyn (with a really bad knee).

 Jake White – will not be missed


White became more and more conservative as the season wore on, relying on the pack and the big boot of Steyn. To the coaches’ credit, he started the season playing more adventurous rugby when Lambie was at 10 and Steyn at 12 but when things started to go wrong he reverted to the J-word (“Jakeball”) – there, I said it).

Even the staunchest Jakeball apologists would have to admit that their eyes hurt when reading these stats:
Kicks from hand – 553 (Rank 1)· Number of tries in the league stages – 29 (Rank 16)· Number of penalty goals converted – 76 (Rank 1)

Eina! (Ouch!)

Other areas where the depth was significantly exposed were lock forward, in the centers (the loss of Jordaan fairly early on in the comp was massive) and tight head prop.

The Sharks were tough to beat in The Shark Tank, but their home losses to the Stormers and Highlanders cost them that all-important home semi-final. As a result they had to hit the road for the impossible task of winning two away knockout matches. By that time the squad looked exhausted, as most men in key positions had clocked significantly more minutes than planned.

If they can stay a bit healthier this year, look out.

Sharks – Loss to Stormers and Highlanders cost them a home semi-final


2015 Preview

Sharks fans can be justifiably optimistic. Their off-season recruitment started at the top with the signing of innovative coach Gary Gold as their director of rugby. Those that enjoy Gary’s blog would agree that he is a forward thinker.

Gold has made no secret of the fact that the Sharks will give the ball air in 2015 (through the hands that is).

The involvement of Dr. Brendan Venter in a coaching capacity is also a definite plus. Like him or not, he is great motivator and a clever man.

 Brendan Venter – a great motivator


Player Gains

The Sharks have recruited well, with the areas that caused them grief in 2014 at the top of their list:

Mouritz Botha – Lock (Saracens, England)
Renaldo Bothma – Lock / Flanker (Pumas)
Lionel Cronjé – Flyhalf (Brumbies)
Conrad Hoffmann – Scrumhalf (Brumbies)
Lubabalo Mtyanda – Lock (Pumas, on loan)
Waylon Murray – Centre (Bulls)
Matt Stevens – Prop (Saracens, England)*
Jack Wilson – Wing (Saracens)
Tyler Fisher – Centre (Loca)
Hansie Graaff – Wing (Currie Cup)
Jaco van Tonder – Flyhalf / Fullback (WP)

* Yes he’s the rotund English pot plant with the white, powdery finish.

Player Losses

Jacques Botes (retired)
Anton Bresler (Edinburgh)
Keegan Daniel (Japan) *
Jean Deysel (Japan) *

Wiehan Herbst (Ulster)
Peet Marais (Brive)
Charl McLeod (Grenoble)

*Daniel and Deysel could still feature. The last I heard they were negotiating with their Japanese clubs to return to Durban.

 Mouritz Botha – returns to South Africa after playing for England


Best XV

Forwards: 1. Beast Mtawarira, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (c), 3. Jannie du Plessis, 4. Mouritz Botha, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 7. Willem Alberts, 8. Ryan Kankowski

Backs: 9. Cobus Reinach, 10. Pat Lambie, 11. JP Pietersen, 12. Frans Steyn, 13. Paul Jordaan, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 15. Lwazi Mvovo

Players to Watch

Lock forward Pieter-Steph du Toit – Man mountain; missed the whole 2014 season; huge, athletic, massive engine.

Loose head prop Thomas du Toit – 19-year-old understudy of The Beast; will go on play 70+ tests for SA. You read it here first.


Conference Winner; losing finalists.


Officially Australia's number one self proclaimed Blue Bulls fan. It's a tough gig, but someone has to do it.

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