Sharks always a bridesmaid

Wed, 24 Jan 2018 12:16

SUPER RUGBY PREVIEW 2018 - TEAM BY TEAM: In the third instalment of our 15-part build-up to the season we look at the Sharks. It will be followed by the rest of the teams in the South African conference - then the other conferences.

It must the most undesirable moniker: The most successful team never to have won Super Rugby.

There is another sobriquet that fits the bill: 'Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.'

The Sharks has been runners-up five times, losing semifinalists four times and reached the preliminary play-offs (or quarterfinals) on another two occasions.

That is why the big question every year is: 'Will the Sharks get the monkey off their collective backs?'

Like all teams, at the start of the season, the Sharks have ambitions to go all the way.

There was some clear-sighted recruitment in the off-season - most notably in the coaching department.

Robert du Preez (senior) not only lured his son (Robert junior) back 'home' - to shore up the flyhalf stocks - but the arrival of former Springbok centre and Bok assistant coach Dick Muir, as well former Bok flyhalf Braam van Straaten, will give the Sharks some interesting options.

Du Preez, senior, said their success in 2018 will hinge on using the squad "effectively".

Muir, in particular, can improve the Sharks' attack - after defence was the cornerstone of their march to the Super Rugby play-offs and Currie Cup Final last year.

"It's great to have people like that here, with great experience," Du Preez senior said of the additions to his coaching staff.

"Dick's presence here was much-needed, he adds balance."

That balance - between attack and defence - may just be the catalyst that will see the Sharks shed the bridesmaid's tag.

As they showed in both Super Rugby and the Currie Cup in 2017, they have a pack of forwards capable of mixing it with the best.

Their backline skills, decision-making and tactics are what cost them at crucial stages in their campaigns.

Now they may have the X-factor that could turn them into a championship team.

Will it happen in 2018? Only time will tell.

2018 Predictions

South African Conference Placing: Second
Player of the Year: Philip van der Walt
Rookie of the Year: Sibusiso Nkosi
Super Rugby Placing: Sixth

Squad Movements

In: Robert du Preez (Stormers), Ross Geldenhuys (Kings), Gideon Koegelenberg (Zebre), Makazole Mapimpi (Cheetahs), Tyler Paul (Kings), Louis Schreuder (Kings), Armand van der Merwe (Lions), Cameron Wright (Montpellier), Leolin Zas (Stormers).

Out: Lourens Adriaanse (Pau), Stephan Coetzee (Kings), Jean Deysel (Ulster), Rowan Gouws (Kings), Francois Kleynhans (Pumas), Pat Lambie (Racing 92), Khaya Majola (Kings), Odwa Ndungane (retired), Etienne Oosthuizen (Lyon), Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints), Sibusiso Sithole (Kings), Hanco Venter (released), Clément Poitrenaud (retired), Coenie Oosthuizen (injured), Inny-Christian Radebe (released).

History

Best finish: Runners-up in 1994, 1996, 2001, 2007, 2012

Worst finish: Twelfth in 2000 and 2005

Sharks squad:

Forwards: Armand van der Merwe, Coenraad Oosthuizen, Mahlatse Ralepelle, Daniel du Preez, Franco Marais, Gideon Koegelenberg, Hyron Andrews, Jacques Vermeulen, Jean Droste, Jean-Luc du Preez, John-Hubert Meyer, Juan Schoeman, Keegan Daniel, Kerron van Vuuren, Khuta Mchunu, Lubabalo Mtembu, Mzamo Majola, Philip van der Walt, Ross Geldenhuys, Ruan Botha (captain), Stephan Lewies, Tendai Mtawarira, Thomas du Toit, Tyler Paul, Wian Vosloo.

Backs: Andre Esterhuizen, Cameron Wright, Courtney Winnaar, Curwin Bosch, Garth April, Grant Williams, Jeremy Ward, Johan Deysel, Jacobus van Wyk, Leolin Zas, Louis Schreuder, Lukhanyo Am, Lwazi Mvovo, Makazole Mapimpi, Marius Louw, Michael Claassens, Rhyno Smith, Robert du Preez, Sibusiso Nkosi, Tristan Blewett.

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

* Don't miss the rest of the South African conference, as well as the New Zealand and Australian conferences in the coming weeks.

Other previews:
* Lions
* Sharks

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 24 February 2018
Sunwolves v Brumbies 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Chiefs 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Stormers 08h45 Allianz Park
Treviso v Connacht 12h00 Stadio Monigo
Lions v Jaguares 13h05 Johannesburg
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Ireland v Wales 14h15 Aviva Stadium
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 14h30 Twickenham Stoop
Gloucester v Wasps 14h30 Kingsholm
Bath v Sale Sharks 14h30 Recreation Ground
Bulls v Hurricanes 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Scotland v England 16h45 BT Murrayfield
Ospreys v Cheetahs 17h30 Liberty Stadium
Scarlets v Ulster 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
Sun, 25 February 2018
Zebre v Cardiff Blues 13h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Leicester Tigers 15h30 Allianz Park
Fri, 02 March 2018
Blues v Chiefs 06h35 Eden Park
Reds v Brumbies 09h00 Suncorp Stadium
Kings v Dragons 17h35 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Edinburgh v Munster 19h35 Myreside
Cardiff Blues v Treviso 19h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 19h35 Kingspan Stadium
Harlequins v Bath 19h45 Twickenham Stoop
Sat, 03 March 2018
Sunwolves v Rebels 22h00 Tokyo
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 23 February 2018
France v Italy 34 | 17
Leinster v Kings 64 | 7
Dragons v Edinburgh 12 | 25
Munster v Glasgow Warriors 21 | 10
Rebels v Reds 45 | 19
Highlanders v Blues 41 | 34
Mon, 19 February 2018
NWU-Pukke v UJ 18 | 15
Maties v CUT-Ixias 75 | 12
UCT-Ikeys v Shimlas 27 | 32
NMMU-Madibaz v Wits 29 | 32
Sun, 18 February 2018
Dragons v Treviso 15 | 18
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 13 | 7
Sat, 17 February 2018
Cardiff Blues v Munster 25 | 18
Lions v Sharks 26 | 19
Leinster v Scarlets 20 | 13
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Rebels 1 1 0 0 5
Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0
Sunwolves 0 0 0 0 0
Reds 1 0 0 1 0
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Highlanders 1 1 0 0 4
Blues 1 0 0 1 1
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0
Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 1 1 0 0 4
Lions 1 1 0 0 4
Sharks 1 0 0 1 1
Bulls 0 0 0 0 0
Jaguares 1 0 0 1 0