Pietersen coming into his own

    2016-03-14 12:02

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - When the news broke pre-season that Pat Lambie would miss the first three months of Super Rugby with a shoulder injury, Sharks fans would have been concerned. 

    Lambie had been named Super Rugby captain, and his Springbok pedigree was considered vital to the Sharks' chances of turning around their fortunes in the competition following a difficult 2015 season. 

    While they are blessed with depth in many areas, the Sharks appeared short of quality flyhalves. 

    Youngster Garth April impressed on the pre-season tour to France, but in the end Gold opted to start the season with the seasoned Joe Pietersen, who had experience at No 10 with the struggling Cheetahs in 2015. 

    It is a decision that has proved the right one for Gold so far. 

    In Saturday's 18-13 win over the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday, Pietersen's tactical kicking was hugely influential and his high 'bombs' gave the Stormers outside backs problems throughout the 80 minutes. 

    He also scored the winning try for the Sharks, finishing a counter-attacking move started by JP Pietersen, while his 49m penalty in the 62nd minute with the scores locked at 10-10 was slotted under huge pressure. 

    He may not be flashy, but Pietersen is doing the basics well, and that is surely all Gold and the Sharks can ask for after the Lambie blow that threatened to rock their season.

    "It’s still a debate every week because I think Garth (April) really stepped up to the plate and did well for us when we went to France," Gold said of his options at flyhalf.

    "It comes down to the fact that there is no real substitute for experience. Joe is a cool, calm head and he runs the show nicely.

    "I still think that he is a more formidable fullback than he is a 10, but he’s very comfortable in that position."

    Gold added that Pietersen's level head on and off the field was a calming influence on the side.

    "You want to see that the players have confidence in their eyes to be able to do a job … and Joe does," said Gold.

    "He’s a super cool guy and very relaxed … and he’s like that on and off the field and he calms down the people around him.

    "But Garth has got an exciting future as well."

    The Sharks, undefeated in Super Rugby this season, now travel to Pretoria for a date with the Bulls on Friday night. 

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