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Friday, January 20, 2006


Super 14: Sharks in an Orca pod

The Shark. Razor-toothed piscine hunter of the deep ocean. Man-eater. A 1981 US survey found,the word SHARK induced the most terror. But alongside the greatest predator of all, Sharks are clown fish. Sleek black and white nine ton mammal. The Orcas. They outgun Sharks in every sense. Faster, bigger and much much more intelligent using complex communication and co-operative tactics. They hate sharks. Sharks threaten their babies. Crossing paths with Orcas is certain death to Sharks. After this Super 14 we’ll see a Sharks carcass wash up on the gentle shores of Currie Cup rugby covered in bite marks from thirteen Orcas.

The old Murphy moniker (If anything can go wrong, it will) applies for the Sharks this year. Everything is stacked against them getting even one win, and they will follow the past few year’s form and finish dead stone last, making place for Tony McKeever’s young Spears to have a shot at greatness while the Banana Boys groggily take a year out to get up from their own peel they slipped on. Why do I say this?

The past two years count against them

In the heady days of Mark Andrews, Lem and Teich, the Sharks had everyone’s number in this competition, starting their campaign with 2nd, 4th and 3rd. From 2002 it was 10th, 11th, 7th (an aberration that came to an end when Butch James couldn’t play in the home games) and finally 12th. Nothing has changed from 2005. The same ageing players, a few younger and more inexperienced ones, their open tiff with SARU when Oregon Hoskins lead a failed palace coup, and injuries. They look under prepared this year. The new coach has also failed to deliver in the Currie Cup. He starts as a green head coach for Super 14.

Their schedule is a road to disaster.

They start against the Chiefs in Durban. The Chiefs are probably 4th strongest of the Kiwi teams, but with All Blacks Byron Kelleher, Sione Lauaki and dangerous Sitiveni Sivivatu this is not a team to be trifled with. The week afterward the Currie Cup champion Cheetahs visit the Shark tank. A stern test. This is where it goes pear-shaped.

Next up they hit the Australiasian road, starting their overseas campaign against the worst possible opponents, the Crusaders. Then the Waratahs, Brumbies and Highlanders in frosty Antarctica. With all shuttling between Australia and New Zealand the Sharks are going to spend a lot of time in airports – and with jet lag.

Then they come home to a relieving easier game against fellow cellar dwellers, the Reds. Following this they fly to Jozi for a showdown with a classy Cats outfit, before they face the mighty Blues starring Doug Howlett, Luke McAllister, Keven Mealamu and Joe Rokocoko. This is followed up with another trip to Gauteng to play the Bulls in their blue kraal. Then back onto a plane to face the Bok studded backline of the Stormers in Durban and lastly debutante Aussies the Force in Durban.

What a shocking schedule. The Sharks will be on planes every Saturday evening or Sunday morning throughout their campaign. Every single game requires flying and only their first two matches and the last two don’t require them to travel.

This travel crazy itinerary will count against them. They face difficult teams away from home in successive weeks, e.g. the Bulls and Blues. The schedule is going to be their undoing.

The crazy schedule means key players need rest and there’s no backup

The Sharks only named 29 players, so that leaves room for 2004’s inspirational Butch James to come back into the side. So let’s look at their make-shift team. Even this is crazy. There’s space for Butch James, John Smit or Tony Brown, but not all three. So who will have the 30th spot?

Their back three will probably start as Russel, Mkhize and Mentz. Mentz is strong, big and fast, but has failed at this level before. Russel is a breakaway player. He needs space to dominate and his defence is questionable. Like most of the young guns coming through at the moment, Mkhize is fast. But that’s about it. In the back-up they have pint sized, but promising JP Pietersen and Odwa Ndungane, a player with only speed in his arsenal. Defensively this back three is suspect and any opponent would be well advised to spin it wide where people like Clyde Rathbone, Joe Rokocoko, Sitiveni Sivavatu, Bryan Habana and Ashwin Willemse will wreak havoc on this back three.

In the midfield the Sharks are reasonably represented with another 16 Valve in Adie Jacobs, promising but inexperienced Freestate journeyman Andries Strauss and non passing defensive hole Ncgobani Bobo. Without Butch James and Tony Brown, the flyhalf berth looks decidedly vulnerable with make-shifts long in the tooth Percy Montgomery, pocket rocket utility Brent Russel and scrumhalf convert Ruan Pienaar, who failed there in Currie Cup 2005.

Only at scrumhalf are the Sharks ably represented with Ruan Pienaar fulfilling a good role as back-up to competent Jake White outcast Craig Davidson.

The back row is served with Samoan international Daniel Farani, who could not get a contract with a Kiwi side, ageing AJ “Fabio” Venter, incorrectly identified “star” Solly Tybilika and back-up in geriatric Warren Britz. Against the likes of Danie Rossouw, Schalk Burger, Richie McCaw, George Smith, David Lyons, Jerry Collins and Mose Tuiali’I they will be seriously outgunned in the size and speed departments. Much like sharks against orcas.

The lock department looks useful with Bok impact Albert Van Den Berg backed by similarly ageing former Bok and Bulls enforcer Johan Ackerman. The problem is that neither are particularly good jumpers or ball competitors so while Van Den Berg may make a useful blindsider and Johan Ackerman a useful ruck buster, neither inspire confidence against the likes of Big Vic, Jannes Labuschagne, Bakkies Botha, Ali Williams, Chris Jack and Daniel Vickerman. The backup is effectively non-existent. Nobody in their right mind would call them Super 14 players which augurs poorly for the Sharks.

The front row features promising and inexperienced BJ Botha, ageing Deon Caarsten, who has never impressed, and promising Bismarck Du Plessis to replace inspirational Bok skipper John Smit. They have to face people like the wily Matt Dunning, The Bulls front row, North Harbour All Blacks Keven Mealamu and strongman Tony Woodcock. But in their second match they face Bok pairing Os Du Randt and strngman deluxe CJ Van Der Linde. This will be enough to spell doom.

No Bok skipper and no experience in the coaching set-up

Yes David Campese came over to help, but he has absolutely no coaching experience and his current rugby knowledge is limited to whining about Eddie Jones in The Australian and running a sports shop. Dick Muir was an outstanding player and his replacement of pariah Kevin Putt caused a breath of relief for fans. His coaching experience at this level as head coach is non existent.

Then we have a Director of Rugby who single-handedly did his best to give every male in South Africa a cap and tried his best to destroy our game. Okay, he lead the Sharks to two Currie Cup Finals where they lost, but he’s credibility is shot for all times and always.

John Smit makes a massive contribution to the Sharks success. He’s out with an injury. Afterward, he faces a ban. He will probably only become involved when the Orcas have done the worst damage, and the Sharks carcass is washing toward the gentle shore where the Spears await their turn to have a shot.
Sorry robd

It's actually not as negative as what I was on the really bad team we're fielding in this year's Super 14, the Bacardi Breezes, I mean Stormers...
SA 2/0 chasing 225 against Australia at the doclands.

OO will be happy to hear VD Wath took three sticks as we reeled them in from 172/2 batting at 6 per over to have Pollock, Hall and VD Wath whack them out.

Botha started the crunch slowing down the scoring, before the three mediums started the sticks tumbling.
Iow, iow, its out the Super 14 they go.  
i will let you know the breezes will do much better than most if not all SA's S14 teams. Cats consistently have the best squad every yr but fail to perform as expected...

On another note, JP Duminy's dad gave us 2 tickets to watch the Shongolongo's(typo) 2nite at Newlands... 20/20 game so it should be good fun... Hope the Cobras batsmen perform for a change...
Well DavidS, again a very entertaining piece to read

I still think the sharks would survive-

Glad about VDWath- origionally from your neck of the woods- hope he can speak russian ;-)

I share your "percieved" passion on Orcas, wonderful family orientated creatures.

wane hope that.

I think the Titans game is on tv?

I love Orcas.

A friend of mine who is like a diving instructor and very experienced diver who went on a "Big Fish" diving course in the US. They told him how to deal with Sharks of different species, how to swim with whales and dolphins etc.

And they said

"If you see an Orca GET THE HELL OUTTA THE WATER!"

He asked about the bends and stuff and they said

"If you see one Orca there are more. You can be cured from the bends, but you can't be cured if 10 Orcas decide you look like a seal..."
DavidS... The Wiley Matt Dunning? I agree a writer my use some litarary license, but you have taken things to extremes.  
However you did redeem yourself when you mentioned the Bacardi Breezers, light.  
Even the people here in Durban doesn't give the Guppies much of a chance of surviving. You should see how many people are buying season tickets because they believe that it will be the last year for a while that they will be able to watch S14 rugby in a stadium.  
The rest of you can hanna hanna as much as you like but the mighty Stormers are going to win the Super 14.  
take comments from mondi (paperboy davids) from where they come ras, the breezers will clap the mondi team yet again this year.  
lmao for mondi team. BWAHAHAHAHAHAA  
"...a Classy Cats outfit...."


Those yappers should get some jam PA & Ras (btw, nice pic u got there Ras...)
He fails to notice that the classy Cats outfit only chalked up 1 win last year - they couldn't even beat the Tjarks!!
....a certain phrase along the lines of "Like kissing your sister" comes to mind....  
Hoe lyk my prentjie nou??? Man, dis mos hoe 'n man met 'n visie moet lyk!
(Wonder net watter visie het hy vir die Tjarks....gan seker iets soos Survivor wees, "The Bribe has spoken, goodbye...")
Jinne, ma you ou's are quiet on a Friday afternoon. Where is evr'body?

I think I'll stick to my latest pic and add to it this slighty modified proverb:

"You'll never know how much you appreciate missing something if you don't see it every day."
LOL, PA and NamBoer!!

Mondi DaivdS!
"DaivdS" - sheesh, can't even blame jetlag.

Still, DavidS is only a name 'on paper', so what does it matter if it's spelt incorrectly! ;-)

Aish, the Cats have a fine looking team 'on paper'.....

When we start playing rugby on paper I'm going to be very scared of them.
Loved the analysis, DavidS.

Hard to fault the logic.

It's going to be a trying time for the Sharks.

What is it that makes certain teams perennial challengers whilst others may come and go? There must be a secret.

The fall of the Sharks is particularly disturbing, from being the most professional and forward thinking union in SA to this state of affairs.

When did their CEO take over? Anyone know?

That win was against The Bulls



Let me reopen oold wounds a bit




Welcome back!! How was the Med?

No, it'll be when they take their play OFF the paper and put it ON the field that everyone will need to be filled with terror.

Their ONE 2004 winh was against The Brumbies too
Nice job - although a bit of licence taken. JP Pietersen is not "pint-sized" )in fact he's the same size as Lem) and Albert vd Bergh is, in fact, a bloody good lineout jumper. Other than that - you're spot on!  
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