Monday, February 06, 2006

Sharks update: Spedding To Start?

This article courtesy of SuperRugby

Not sure if I like the idea of throwing a youngster to the wolves, but anyway.

Muir has something up his sleeveby Gavin Rich

Posted on 06 February 2006 - 08:04
Dick Muir © Touchline PhotoWith Tony Brown still missing, Sharks coach Dick Muir may be set to produce a couple of shocks when he names his team for the first Super 14 match of the new season against the Chiefs in Durban next Saturday.

Brown, the former Highlander listed as the Sharks’s big-name overseas buy in the off-season, is still in Japan and right now the Sharks are no wiser as to when he might finally materialise in Durban. Percy Montgomery has been playing flyhalf in the warm-up games, but Muir has hinted that the combinations everyone is expecting to see might not be what will run out for the Sharks in their opening match.

In particular, Muir appears to have been impressed with the young flyhalves that played for him in the series of warm-up games (the Sharks played two games, meaning two separate teams, in their matches against the Bulls and the Cats), and it may just be that one of them could be in the No10 jersey against the Chiefs.

Making such a scenario more likely is the fact that Brent Russell is one of the players currently on the doubtful list, meaning that Montgomery might be needed at fullback.

Muir has looked at various options in his team’s build-up phase to the Super 14, and it does not appear to have escaped his notice that at both Rustenburg and Sun City, it was the less experienced team that impressed the most.

“We won our first match against the Cats and lost our second one 20-13, but I have been absolutely delighted with what I have seen,” said Muir.

“It may not look like our so-called first choice team did well, but that is just it. That may not have been our first choice, and I think a few people could be surprised when I name the team to play against the Chiefs. One of the big things about Sharks rugby at the moment is that our pipeline of young players really seems to be working again.

“With the youth policy paying off, we now have a number of very special youngsters to choose from. A lot of these guys no-one would have heard of. Among them are Craig Burdon, a centre from Maritzburg College, who did really well, and then others were flyhalves Scott Speding and Scott Mathie, Greg Goosen, Brad Barrett…there were several of them and I could talk all morning about it.”

Muir did well last year in the initial stages of the Currie Cup season by backing his youngsters. Waylon Murray and JP Pietersen were two 19-year-old youngsters that Muir plucked out of the Sharks academy straight into the big league, and they came through for him.

“Our youth could be a big plus for us, but of course if you look at it another way, it could be a negative in that obviously these guys lack Super 14 experience and in that sense it is a bit of a gamble to select them,” said Muir.

“I have no doubt that all the guys I have mentioned can play Super 14 rugby and I do believe that if you are good enough you are old enough. But obviously experience does count for a lot in the Super 14 and we will only really know how they are going to adapt to the stresses of the competition once we have put them onto the playing field.”

Muir believes the Super 14 this year is going to be all about keeping players fresh and using the depth of the squad. He denies that he is looking at fielding two distinctly different teams in the competition, but says that he will be using a squad rotation system.

“Rotation of players is going to be a crucial part of our campaign and that is why we worked with such a big squad in the pre-season. I have been really impressed with the depth and I am very confident about our chances of doing well in the competition and surprising a few people,” said Muir.

“We do have a few injuries at the moment, but hopefully they are not too serious. Among the players we will be nursing a bit before we name our team for the Chiefs game are Brent Russell, Waylon Murray, Cedric Mkhize, Craig Davidson and Odwa Ndungane. JP Pietersen is also injured, which is a great shame because he is a very special player.”


Nothing will please me more than the Sharks having a good S14- well obviously the Cheetahs to win the bloody shebang but then - that is what dreams are made of.

On Spedding- I believe that he will see adeqaute ball and that Strauss will be a good solid influence on his shoulder.

Hope Spedding is that speedy against us though ;-)
I reckon our game against you okes is gonna be brutal!
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