Home Sport Sharks must not invest in average cast-offs from other unions

Sharks must not invest in average cast-offs from other unions

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The Sharks have to stop buying average cast-offs from other unions and – at the other extreme – top-end Boks who seldom play.

Hollywoodbets Sharks head coach John Plumtree. Picture: SteveHaagSports, INPHO, Shutterstock (14182882x)

Sharks must stop feeding off other teams’ scraps

ONE of the first things John Plumtree told the media when he began his second term as coach of the Sharks was that he was working through an inherited player roster, working out who he could take forward into battle and who to jettison.

He would have made significant inroads with that roster at the weekend because an away game against the bristling Bulls team was the perfect arena in which to see who was up for the fight and who was content to go through the motions.

However, it isn’t quite as easy as that because Plumtree might be tempted to give some of the players who “did not turn up”, as he put it, a second chance on Saturday when the Sharks host French club Pau in the EPCR Challenge Cup, the second-tier competition to the Champions Cup that the Sharks were relegated to at the end of the last season.

“A lot of guys missed their mental preparation,” Plumtree said, caustically, after the 44-10 defeat.

“It looked like there were some pretty rusty players out there – not just the ones I have had all along (in Durban), but some that have returned from France.”

For Plumtree, the issue had been clouded by the 69-point rout of the lowly Dragons the week before the Bulls game. Everybody looked good against the worst-performing Welsh team and Loftus was always going be a true gauge of where the players were.

There was the sight of a colossal Bok who won games in France going through the motions in Pretoria. The important thing that impatient Sharks fans have to understand is that Plumtree cannot be expected to get all of this right in a few months.

He is also trying to get the Sharks to play an ambitious brand of rugby. And it surely did not help that his first month in charge was a four-match tour of Europe, starting with giants Leinster and Munster.

The most important thing the Sharks have to get right over the next few months is to change their recruitment policy, from randomly picking players who have come off contracts at other unions to shrewdly buying players who are just outside the Springbok squad.

They will need players who are good enough to play international rugby but at this point in their career are not doing so – either because they are rising youngsters or seniors who have missed the Bok boat – and will thus be around to play for Plumtree.

The Sharks have to stop buying average cast-offs from other unions and – at the other extreme – top-end Boks who seldom play.

With this in mind, it was interesting to read in a weekend newspaper that a raft of senior players currently in Europe are looking to return home from the UK in particular as clubs struggle to pay salaries.

There are some seriously good players in this group, including Jan Serfontein, the 30-year-old former Springbok centre, who has racked up over 100 appearances for French giants Montpellier.

Given how Rohan Janse van Vuuren is battling with his handling skills, Serfontein at 12 for the Sharks would be a coup, especially given how well Lukhanyo Am is playing in a losing cause.

If Am had a good playmaker at 12, he would be even better.

Then there are some very good forwards wanting a homecoming – JD Schickerling, Jason Jenkins, Trevor Nyakane, Ruan Ackermann and Springbok No.8 Jasper Wiese.

I’m not so sure Wiese would be good for the Sharks given the reasons already mentioned but Ackermann would be a good buy, as would Jenkins or Schickerling.

They are good enough to play for South Africa but are not going to, given who is already there.

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