Durban - You could sense some people in the room
wincing when Sharks coach Robert du Preez was asked the questions
after this team’s narrow 19-16 defeat to the Bulls at King’s Park on Saturday.
The first focused on whether, given that his son,
Robert du Preez , was missing his place-kicks, Curwin Bosch
shouldn’t have been handed those duties when he came onto the field late
in the game as a replacement. The second was more direct and perhaps
more pertinent - will Bosch be considered as the flyhalf going forward.
Preez responded well to both questions, and said that all options would
be considered for the next game, and changes would be on the table if
Normally of course this line of questioning and
answering would be seen as run-of-the-mill, the expected questions and
answers. But there has always been an additional angle brought to the
Bosch versus Du Preez debate by the fact that Du Preez is the coach’s
son. Bosch hasn’t had a look in at pivot at Super Rugby level since Du
Preez moved from Cape Town to Durban at the end of 2017.
fair, Bosch was going to start against the Sunwolves had he not been
injured for the trip to Singapore. And he did miss some of the
subsequent games because of injury too. There is also the million dollar
question that is always angled at Bosch - is he brave enough, will he
ever properly sort out his defensive vulnerabilities.
to that can only come from Bosch himself, but if you watch the Rebels
play you’ll get alerted to a way to get around Bosch’s defensive
frailties. On opposition ball, Rebels flyhalf Quade Cooper is never
standing in the flyhalf channel, he’s out on the wing. It was a ploy
used with Bosch in the past, and in fact Robert du Preez was hidden in
the same way when he played age-group rugby in Durban, before his
Du Preez’s defence has improved, but the Jesse
Kriel try against the Sharks was sourced in Du Preez defensive blunder.
It was just one of many mistakes he made on the day, and the time has
arrived where many Sharks fans are starting to ask whether Bosch’s
supposed defensive weaknesses are so relevant when balanced up against
the clear need for the addition of some attacking X-factor and attacking
Most opposing coaches will admit they are
secretly pleased that Bosch is kept away from the No 10 jersey when they
go to Durban. You can understand the Sharks intent - Du Preez is a big
flyhalf, Andre Esterhuizen is a sizeable piece of meat at inside centre
too. Get forward ascendancy and then bash it up seems to be a reasonable
objective No 1. Except that is overdone and it has moved the Sharks
away from what used to be their supposed DNA, meaning a running game.
do have pace to burn out wide, and the Bulls arrived in Durban carrying
question marks over the defensive capabilities of their back three, who
were exposed by the Chiefs. The Sharks though lacked the wherewithal to
properly probe those areas like the Chiefs did.
It might require a
lot more than just one change in personnel to make the difference that
is required, but selecting Bosch, and giving him a proper extended run
in the position, might be the key to unlocking what is not working for
the Sharks and what is making them way too predictable currently.
is a lot of emphasis at the Sharks on getting physical ascendancy but
Saturday’s game provided evidence that sometimes that isn’t enough.
There needs to be more innovation and perhaps most importantly more
X-factor in the key decision making positions. Bosch can bring that
At least Du Preez at this point has the choice of
choosing Bosch after the SANZAAR disciplinary committee gave Akker van der Merwe a three-week ban for punching a
prone Schalk Brits.
With the capable Franco Marais having left for overseas and Chiliboy
Ralepelle still out, the Sharks have a huge hole to fill.
Craig Burden is experienced and is back from a five year sojourn in
France, but he was never really the first choice for the Sharks in Super
Rugby when he was in his pomp - Bismarck du Plessis and John Smit were -
and appears to be struggling with injury problems. Two weeks in
succession he has been selected to play off the bench and then been
forced out after being injured in training.
Du Preez has very right to be livid with Van der Merwe, as his actions at King’s Park have left the coach in a right pickle.
is a very tough one,” he said. “These things can happen in the heat of
the moment. But we can’t condone what happened. We have to control
ourselves better and that wasn’t great.”
Du Preez rightly lamented the errors which cost his team.
“We did everything to win the game, but didn’t,” said the coach.
possession and territory stats were outstanding, and we created a bunch
of opportunities, but we made individual errors that cost us. We know
that these derbies can go either way and it went against us because of
A little bit more X-factor applied on attack might
have made those mistakes less crucial, for Du Preez is right - the
Sharks did play most of the game with a surfeit of possession and in the
right areas of the field. And they were up against a Bulls team that
was pretty abject on the day and clearly still feeling the effects of
their morale-destroying mauling at the hands of the Chiefs.
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