Dick Muir chats to Sport24
Cape Town - Former Sharks coach and Springbok centre DICK MUIR
talks new ventures, the 2007 Super Rugby final and offers a prediction ahead of
the Sharks’ semi-final clash against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.
Thusi asked: What
are your future plans and which team are you planning to coach next?
Muir: Believe it or not, I’m
now in the vegetable-processing business. My company has been open and
effective for just over a year. My only current involvement with rugby is through
my Investec International Rugby Academy. Our aim is to fast-track players and
coaches with potential. As far as coaching at the top-level again, I believe I’ve
travelled that road and done my bit.
Steven Scott Green asked: Three South
African sides finished in the bottom six of Super Rugby this season. What’s
your expert opinion from the outside looking in?
Muir: It’s most definitely a concern, and two of
those sides – the Cheetahs and Lions – were playing a global brand of rugby
rather than a South African style. While both sides really allowed their
players to express themselves on attack, at times, they appeared caught between
game plans. While playing with freedom is important and something which I
advocate, the aforementioned sides were hamstrung by high error-counts.
Katelyn Owen asked: Having previously coached the Sharks, what have you made of the team’s
development under Jake White’s tutelage?
Muir: While the Sharks have done exceptionally well
this season, it’s all good and well reaching the playoffs, but the reality is
that no one ever remembers the team that comes second or third. I don’t
necessarily believe that the Sharks’ current style is altogether conducive to
winning the competition. The Durban-based side have most definitely failed to
maximise their attacking backs’ full potential. White’s philosophy is not to
make mistakes in your own half, and although largely successful this season,
said approach has certain limitations which the top sides tend to expose.
Wade Pretorius asked: You’re a firm believer in introducing fresh legs in the second half of
matches. Have the Sharks and South Africans sides, in general, made the most of
impact players this season?
Muir: This topic is such a bone of contention.
Rugby is no longer a 15-man game – it’s now a 23-man sport. Therefore, what
coaches want to do is make use of their entire squad through a rotation system.
Take the analogy of three people teaming up to compete in a marathon rather
than a solitary runner completing the entire race on his own. Sharing the
workload is crucial in a competition as stifling as Super Rugby.
Tashreeq Vardien asked: In his book, John Smit was quite critical of your substitutions in the 2007
final defeat to the Bulls. What really happened towards the end of that match?
Muir: As far as I’m aware, Smit’s gripe was
primarily about Percy Montgomery being substituted. However, the fact of the
matter is that I pulled him off as he was carrying an injury. Winning Super
Rugby that season was obviously just not meant to be, but maybe from a
philosophy perspective I was too hell-bent on not kicking the ball out, which
had worked well for us up until that point. Ultimately, I believe it was unfortunate
that the wrong team, in my opinion, won on the day.
Raymond Silinga asked: Pat Lambie has returned to No 10. What dimension will he add, and is
Frans Steyn most effective at inside centre?
Muir: In the injury-enforced absence of Lambie, the
Sharks’ backline failed to operate as efficiently. Thus, I believe that his
return to the starting line-up will make a significant difference. The whole
Sharks team has so much confidence in and respect for Lambie. He is a really classy
performer and I thoroughly enjoy his game-management ability. As far as Steyn
is concerned, he is so talented that I would just want him in my starting side irrespective
of the number he wears on his back.
Maano Nekhavhambe asked: Glen Jackson is the man in the middle for the Sharks versus Crusaders
clash. Do you believe that more former players should pick up the whistle?
Muir: Absolutely. I feel more ex-players need to be
fast-tracked. What I really enjoy about Jackson is his feel for the game and I love
his style of officiating. That said, I must admit that I am somewhat surprised
that a New Zealand referee was selected for the clash in question. While you
always want the best officials refereeing the top games, you will probably find
that Jackson will be a little harder on the home side to prove a point that he
is no way biased towards his countryman.
Adele Hamilton asked: Super Rugby expands to 18 teams in 2016. Would a team from Japan or
Singapore justify a spot?
Muir: To be blunt, I think it’s because of poor
administration that the competition has reached the over-grown size that it
has. I feel the tournament has become too drawn out and has lost a lot of its
appeal. Adding a team from Japan or Singapore would be highly questionable. And
in spite of South Africa’s player depth, I don’t believe a sixth South African
franchise will prove strong enough.
Earl Haupt asked: Outline what it will take for the Sharks to beat the Crusaders and please
give us your prediction.
Muir: I believe it will require a complete
performance from the Durban side in order to achieve back-to-back wins over the
Crusaders this season. The Sharks are playing against an extremely astute side
that has proved successful over a long period of time. Todd Blackadder’s
philosophy is all about ball-retention and exploiting attacking opportunities
when presented. While they’re an average-to-good defensive side, they are very
strong attackers. If the Sharks deny the home team ball possession, they have a
good chance of beating them. However, I believe the Sharks will be matched
upfront and won’t pose enough threats out-wide. I predict the Crusaders will win
by a close margin.
Joe van Niekerk