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Jake White

Bismarck du Plessis

Winning is the autopilot setting for Bismarck du Plessis

The real Beast roaming around the Super Rugby rugby fields, is Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis.

The bloke next to him at loosehead prop, Tendai Mtawarira, is dubbed “the Beast” who provokes rumbling shows of affection from supporters when he heads off on a run.

His impact, though, is cosmetic compared with Du Plessis.

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Charl McLeod and Pat Lambie

Charl McLeod and Pat Lambie celebrating the Currie Cup victory in 2013. Will they be celebrating with the Super Rugby trophy in two weeks time?

The return of Pat Lambie and the arrival of Charl McLeod onto the field in the final 20 minutes of Highlanders game coincided with ‘some of the best rugby’ for the Sharks.

The Sharks late fightback after they twice came from behind in the second half to see off the stubborn Highlanders 31-27 has secured them a semifinal date with the Crusaders.

White was clearly happy with the entire team, but in particular with his reserve halfback pairing.

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Rod Macqueen

For the Brumbies to win, they need to play “Macqueenball”

They say in sports you have to lose a grand final before you win one. That is the prospect, anyway, facing the ACT Brumbies as they go into a successive Super Rugby finals campaign on Saturday night.

The team they play, the Chiefs, defeated them in the 2013 grand final at Hamilton. It took the All Blacks 24 years to understand that finals rugby is an entirely different ball game from pool-round rugby. After the All Blacks lost in the quarter-finals to France in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, the coaching staff did some deep thinking into how to play finals rugby.

What they discovered is that they needed to have total clarity on how to play each specific final. And they had to have contingency plans for coping with unforeseeable events. The best contingency plan is to score enough points before trouble arrives, as it did for the Brumbies in the last 20 minutes of their final against the Chiefs.

Where the Brumbies need clarity in their qualifying final is knowing whether to play “Jakeball” or “Macqueenball”.

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imageimageThe Cell C Sharks will play in their 14th Vodacom Super Rugby knock-out match when they host the Highlanders in the second Qualifier for 2014 at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday afternoon.

The newly-crowned South African Conference champions are one of the most successful teams in the history of the competition when it comes to reaching the playoff rounds, although they are yet to take the trophy back to Durban.

The Sharks are without doubt the most successful team in the history of the competition never to have won the title.

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Jake White

Jake White

Sharks boss Jake White believes Saturday’s play-off encounter with the Highlanders will be much more like Test match than a Super Rugby showcase.

As a result he believes that the experience of his seasoned Springboks will be a key factor in the knock-out stages of the competition.

“The bottom line is there are no bonus points to worry about in a knock-out game, you just have to win, it doesn’t matter how,”White told a media briefing in Durban on Thursday.

“It means you can’t take too many risks.”

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Jake White

Cell C Sharks coach Jake White

Cell C Sharks director of rugby Jake White has admitted that there was a big temptation to start against the Highlanders with Pat Lambie, but in the end decided against it for fear of disrupting what worked for his side against the Stormers last week.

According to the supersport.com website, speaking a few hours after announcing a match day squad that included Lambie on the bench as back-up to starting flyhalf Frans Steyn, White said he was hoping that the Springbok will get a chance to play in the second half of the Vodacom Super Rugby play-off and thus be ready to start a possible semifinal.

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Jake White

Cell C Sharks coach Jake White

Sharks boss Jake White would like his side to use their performance against the Stormers at Newlands as a template for how to approach the play-offs.

Michael de Vries

Although his side may have fallen one try and 11 points short of their ultimate target on Saturday, White was understandably pleased with the ‘finals rugby’ his side played against a Stormers team that has recently found their best form of the season.

After a deflating defeat to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last week, White called on his best team to get them some momentum before the play-offs and they did just that in a game that had his stamp all over it.

The Stormers had the majority of possession but couldn’t make it count in the face of a committed defensive effort from the Sharks who pounced on some late counter-attacking opportunities to run away with the game in the end.

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O joy... another maul

O joy… another maul

Winning the 2007 Rugby World Cup was a momentous occasion for Springboks but it has done little for the development of the way rugby is played in South Africa.

I believe that the so-called ‘Jake White template’ has been detrimental to South African rugby on a number of levels.

Let me start by saying that I can’t fault White’s tactics in 2007. Given the weapons at his disposal, the approach he adopted was spot on. The efficacy of this approach (when correctly executed) is not in question. My aim here is rather point to the consequences of the mindset that in has become enrooted in SA rugby because of it’s (limited) success.

Ross Hastie

What concerns me is that the territory-based and defence-orientated approach employed back then has been widely adopted in the Republic and in many quarters is still held up as a blueprint for future success.

From a coaching perspective, it’s not difficult to see why this methodology is popular. Giant men imposing themselves with hard, straight running and big hits have always been the hallmarks of the South African style.

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Cell C SharksDo the business in Bloemfontein on Saturday night … then warm up the Sunday morning coffee smartly and become temporary Highlanders enthusiasts for 80 minutes.

Those ought to be key items on the Sharks’ to-do list this weekend as Super Rugby 2014 enters its penultimate round of ordinary-season play.

Director of rugby Jake White will be aware of the potential hazard of putting the cart before the horse, and drum into his charges that victory against the Cheetahs in a domestic derby is very much the main target.

But if they manage that, their attention will undoubtedly turn pretty smartly to a Sunday morning cracker (in SA time-zone terms, at 08:05) between the log-leading Waratahs and New Zealand-based playoffs challengers the Highlanders in Sydney.

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Jake White

Jake White

Cell C SharksJake White has hinted at a bold strategy to rest his returning Springboks with the Sharks having sewn up the South African conference and guaranteed some play-off rugby already.

The Sharks have an unassailable hold on the South African Conference and cannot finish the tournament any lower than third.

However, the plan is to finish in the top two and earn a direct route to a home semifinal without having to play a qualifying knock-out match.

White has indicated that if they are to really be competitive when it matters, it may require some tactical selection policies.

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Patrick Lambie

Patrick Lambie

Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

The Cell C Sharks players not in the Springbok camp all returned to Kings Park this week as they start preparing for the final stages of the Super Rugby tournament, Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick reports.

In two weeks’ time, they will resume duty against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, followed by their final pool match, against the Stormers in Cape Town. The knockout stages follow with the Sharks already guaranteed a place in the top three, having already secured the South African Conference.

The players have had a mixed programme over the June break, alternating rest with gym work and field training to balance the needs to break from the game, without losing strength and fitness.

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Tendai 'Beast'Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast’Mtawarira

Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Willem Alberts

Willem Alberts

It seems the Sharks supporters in general are taking serious exception to recent critisism in the media and here on Rugby-Talk, against suggestions that Jake White has overplayed a lot of the Sharks’ Springbok players and candidates.

We are even experiencing a silent boycot by some of the regular Sharks contributors here on Rugby-Talk, for us daring to speak out in the comments against the lack of national interests by Jake White and the Sharks… not that it has negatively impacted on Rugby-Talk at all in any form or by any means.

Friends, this is not a “Hit Out” against the Sharks, this is a worrying trend, which is showing true results at present!

This morning, I had the fortune of meeting and speaking to one of our regular Sharks supporters’ Father-In-Laws, here in my office… so Sharkie_Forever, you have a grand old Father-In-Law, a singular gentleman, even though he also supports the Sharks.

The older gentleman is also in agreement that Jake White is overplaying some of the players, so there you have it, the wisdom of the older generation!

In SA Rugby media circles, there are probably not a more fervant Sharks media man than Rob Howing, the Sport24 reporter, so I thought that adding an article penned by Rob, is probably apt in the circumstances!

So, here goes:

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Jake White

Jake White

Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

On Rugby-Talk recently, debate in the comments sections between Sharks supporters and other South African supporters often turned and revolved around Jake White’s management or mismanagement of his core players and around the players who will have to do duty for the national side, the Springboks.

The argument often used by Sharks supporters were that the June Internationals are less important, against weakened sides and that Jake White needed to do exactly like he did, play his players week after week and arguably into the ground.

Players like Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Willem Albers and more pertinetly Francois Steyn have looked increasingly jaded and this past weekend’s Sharks loss against the Stormers was a stark reminder of the situation.

One of the regular journalists I share the Press Box at Loftus Versfeld with, Brenden Nel, of SuperSport, penned an interesting article on this same matter. I think he nails this one on the head, here is what he says:

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Jake White

Jake White

Cell C Sharks coach Jake White agreed that the last gasp defeat to the DHL Stormers in the final Vodacom Super Rugby match before the June break was a massive blow to his team, but he refused at the post-match press conference to let the disappointment cloud his perspective.

“Look, if you had asked me at the start of the competition if I would buy a situation where we would be going into the June break at the top of the log by two points with two matches for us to play, I would happily have brought that,” said White.

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Jake WhiteThe Brumbies have taken to the courts in an attempt to get A$25 000 (R 240 000.00) from Jake White for walking out on them half-way through his contract.

According to reports, White was served papers in Canberra the day  before the Sharks clashed with the Brumbies on 10 May.

According to documents lodged in the ACT Magistrates Court, the amount is understood to be the final portion of an estimated A$200 000 (about R1.93m) White owed the Brumbies after violating a non-compete clause in his contract with them.

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Cell C SharksJake WhiteIt is quite amazing how the Cell C Sharks’ 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign is starting to resemble that of the DHL Stormers two years ago.

In 2012, the Stormers topped the overall Super Rugby log, as the Sharks are now, but they gave the impression at times that they were clueless on attack and had to rely almost completely on their strong defensive system. The Stormers back then scored fewer tries than the Sharks have this season, and the Sharks did pick up a four try bonus point in their opening fixture. The table topping Stormers went the entire 2012 league phase without picking up a single four try bonus point.

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Jake WhiteCell C SharksThe Sharks were outplayed and outsmarted by the Highlanders on their way to a shock Super Rugby defeat in Durban on Friday night, director of rugby Jake White said after the game.

“We weren’t at our best and they played really well against us – take nothing away from this performance by the Highlanders,” White said.

“Sometimes when we needed to kick we ran, and sometimes when we needed to run we kicked.”

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Cell C SharksJake WhiteCell C Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White has named a 27 man touring squad that will travel to Australia and New Zealand for the month-long overseas leg of their tournament commitments.

The Cell C Sharks will leave for Australia on Saturday, following Friday night’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Highlanders at Growthpoint KINGS PARK.

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Jake WhiteCell C SharksSharks director of rugby Jake White conceded his team’s lacklustre victory over the struggling Cheetahs in Durban on Saturday was evidence enough that there are no “free games” in Super Rugby.

The coastal side stretched their lead at the top of the tournament standings to six points with an unimpressive 19-8 victory at Kings Park.

“It wasn’t pretty,” White said after the game.

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Francois SteynTim SwielCell C SharksSharks Director of Rugby Jake White is yet to decide whether Frans Steyn or Tim Swiel will start at flyhalf against the Cheetahs this weekend.

Fred Zeilinga injured his hamstring in the victory over the Lions at Ellis Park last Saturday and was replaced by Steyn who shifted from inside centre and performed well at pivot.

Zeilinga joins first-choice flyhalf Pat Lambie on the sidelines, with his injury expected to rule him out for a couple of weeks, which leaves White with an interesting decision.

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EdinburghBreslerDie Skotse rugbyklub Edinburgh se Suid-Afrikaanse spens raak al hoe voller. ’n Amptelike aankondiging word eers later verwag, maar Alan Solomons (afrigter) het glo ’n sewende Suid-Afrikaner na Edinburgh gelok.

Die slot van die Haaie, Anton Bresler, sal hom glo ná die Super Rugby-reeks by Edinburgh aansluit. Bresler kan hom as plaasvervanger vir die oud-Cheetahs slot, Izak van der Westhuizen, wat op pad terug na Suid-Afrika is, daar aanmeld.

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