There was a short, almost implied comment in my morning paper which provided me with better insight into the current situation of the South African sides in the Super 15 competition. I read a bit wider, and came across the following comment by John Plumtree:
“We have worked really hard on attack, and it hasn’t been easy losing personnel and with the combinations continually changing. That makes life difficult for us, but the boys have gone out there and looked to play adventurous rugby, playing with ball in hand and building up some real pressure on the opposition.”
We all know that most teams improve as the season goes on. This is obviously because combinations gain match experience and become better as they play together more. At the start of the season, the Sharks had, at least on paper, the most promising squad of all. The media reckoned that the Stormers also started the season with their best combination ever.
Yet, look where these two teams are now.
It is not so much the loss of star players, as it is the inability to build up momentum, which leads to their poor position on the log. The same applies to the Kings.
While not expected to win the competition, they had a lot to prove, but, in the words of Alan Solomons, the last match against the Waratahs was just one bridge too far for his bruised and battered charges.
On the bright side, the Cheetahs are having their best year ever, and the Bulls appear to have overcome the loss of their very influential senior players, of a few years ago. Ironically, both these sides appear to be far less influenced by the injury plague which beset the three coastal sides.
Dalk sit mielies en beesvleis meer murg in die manne se pype as wyn, piesangs of pynappels?
Die Bulls sit hierdie naweek by die huis, en trek vier punte rente vir hul moeite.
Die Cheetahs se sterte is in die lug, en hulle klink baie positief oor die wedstryd teen die Hurricanes. Daar is twee moontlike lokvalle waarvoor hulle behoort uit te kyk – hul intensiteit na ‘n week van rus, en die gevaar van ‘n gekweste Kiwi na verlede week se loesing teen die Bulls.
The Kings will hopefully bring the Highlanders back to earth in what appears to be the battle for the wooden spoon. Most of us will be hoping that Luke Watson’s return will see the form that made him such a valuable player in the Heineken Cup, only this time for the men from the Eastern Cape.
The Stormers face yet another powerful foe in the form of the Waratahs. Despite Jean de Villiers trying to play down their decision-making last week as the reason they lost, they need to take the points on offer this week. Finish and klaar, as our friend Selebi said. Our boys may be hoping for jet lag to assist them in wearing the Aussies down, but it is time to create their own luck.
The Sharks take on the Reds, whose halfback combination is, in my view, the best in the competition, based on current form. With three Springboks at loose forward, and the Bone Collector on the bench, there is no reason, on paper at least, why the Sharks cannot pull this iron out of the fire.
Why is Jaques Kallis not playing in the Champions Trophy next month? With Smith now also ruled out through injury, there is a serious lack of experience, and the backbone of the batting line-up will be sorely missed. Could there be discontent in the ranks that’s being hushed up, or a possible battle between other factions in the hierarchy? They should remember that it is all about cricket, in the first place, not egoes.