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Sink or Swim

There is no longer any denying it, the Sharks are in a dire situation and fans are tired of waiting weekend after weekend to see if their side is finally going to 'click'. A humbling 40 - 10 loss to the Lions at Emirates Airline Park this weekend is the latest in a string of poor results that has seen them confined to the bottom of the URC table with a single win in their 11 games. Whilst the hope of a play-off berth has long since bolted, there is also precious little time left to earn some respect back. Only a handful of rounds remain in the regular season.

I was one of the ecstatic fans when the Sharks teamed up with MVG Holdings for some major financial fire power. From there the Sharks went on a massive recruitment drive, with a number of top Springboks in their sights. They lured Bongi and Siya away from the Stormers. Eben Etzebeth was brought home from Toulon and they managed to retain a huge number of Boks that were already on their books.

If one takes a look at the Sharks 23 assembled to face the Lions yesterday, there were no fewer than 8 capped Springboks in their ranks, two who lifted the Web Ellis Cup in France only months ago. In addition to this the squad boasts a further 6 World Cup winners and yet the side finds themselves last on the log. It can't be a playing personnel problem, so the question remains what is wrong?

Ever since Sean Everitt was unceremoniously dumped out of the Kings Park coaching box, things have taken a firm dive in the Shark Tank. Yes the side was struggling under Sean too, but not to the extent that we see here, they were still reaching the play-off stages then. The insertion of John Plumtree was a move that I was quite excited about when it was announced. It brought back not only a lot of experience to the role, but also a face familiar to the Sharks family. His influence has however failed to deliver any tangible results and the appointment must surely be under the spotlight from top management at this point.

Be that as it may, is a further coaching shake-up and overhaul really what is best for a side that really needs to establish some sort of consistency. I strongly believe a coach should get at least two seasons with a side before he can be fully judged on his performances, that does not mean he won't be feeling the pressure though.

There is a lot of chat about the Sharks failings stemming from their inability to develop talent from within the union as illustrated by their insistence on pulling out the cheque book. I do believe there is some merit to this argument. The strongest sides tend to have a healthy youth pathway into the senior side, which also adds importance to representing the jersey and a deeper connection to the fans and community they grew up being a part of. It must be quite disheartening to the youngsters in the queue to fall further and further down the pecking order as players are brought in from all over the place.

The recruitment drive isn't over with the Sharks announcing that Trevor Nyakane and Andre Esterhuizen will be joining their ranks next season, along with a quarter of Lions players such as Emmanuel Tshituka and Jordan Hendrikse. Surely these players when considering the move, look at their prospects of earning silverware with the new side and there must be some serious promises and conversations going on behind the scenes that is convincing these guys, that this is the place to ply their trade.

Is it their playing style then? Are the Sharks trying to play expansive rugby which doesn't suit them, or are they trying to play a forward dominated game and just not getting it right? Is it their kick chase game or their defense that needs work? Honestly, who knows? The Sharks don't seem to have any form of identity at the moment and that for me is a problem. It never works to take a game plan and force it onto players. You need to take the players at your disposal and build a game plan around them. The first glimpse of hope here has arisen in the last two weeks, with Siya Masuku breathing some air into their attack. This has hardly been enough though and the players now need to stand up and be counted.

The Sharks have everything a side needs for success. An experienced coach, a big cheque book and a playing personnel that the Toulon side of 2012 would be envious of. What is going wrong in Durban is of serious concern and the problem near impossible to pinpoint. The Sharks should be reaching out to SARU and seeking out Rassie's guidance on how to right the ship, because this side is sadly doing more sinking than swimming and it can't continue.

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Gregory Fendt
Gregory Fendt
06 мар.

With respect to Everitt his axing was a long time coming but I can only wish him well with his new gig. Toulon 2012? are you sure of that year? The Natal rugby was always expansive, just look how Bedford and co played, even later years under Mac.

In my outsider opinion the problem at theSharks may well be senior management / executive and too much pally pally. But Jake and Dobson did not get their teams firing overnight - it took Jake to his 3rd year to get them going and Dobson even longer.

Reality is that the Sharks fans are p1ss3d off with the wasted years from Smit going forward!

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