DURBAN – Social media this week suggests that Sharks fans are exhausted by their team’s consistent inconsistency and that after two seasons of yo-yo performances, the tipping point has been reached - the 50-point thrashing from the Jaguares at Jonsson Kings Park that came just seven days after the same Sharks team put 42 points past the Lions at Ellis Park.
The Sharks in all likelihood will smash the Reds on Friday, but then what about the next week?
This win-lose-win pattern is nothing new.
Last season, the Sharks were the bookies’ best friends because they predictably would back up a good win with a deflating loss, then bounce back the next week.
When the Rebels gave the Sharks 50 in Melbourne, you knew that the following week the Blues were in trouble at Eden Park (they copped 70 from the Sharks).
The next week, the Sharks did play well, losing narrowly to the Hurricanes, but then came home and lost by 40 to the Bulls in Durban. Later in the year, another example was the Sharks shipping 50 to Western Province in a Currie Cup pool match at Newlands before bouncing back to win the final at the same venue.
Most worrying is the fact that the Sharks have been addressing this inconsistency for nearly two seasons, yet it persists. The fact that they can’t shrug the problem may well indicate that there are deep-rooted, unresolved issues in the Sharks camp.
This would explain the sporadic form. Happy, harmonious teams, where all are on the same page from the top brass to the water boys and everyone in between, have sustained success. The sum is greater than the parts and the collective positive energy spurs the performances.
Is the team culture at the Sharks as it should be? Why does it appear that they need external stimuli to perform, such as a player reaching a milestone or the embarrassment of a heavy defeat?
Why do we so often hear from the coaching staff that the opposition were hungrier than the Sharks, were more physical or more passionate? Why is the mindset and attitude of the players often questioned by their coaches? Why, indeed?
In a professional sports team, these mind matters should seldom arise. The correct attitude should be a matter of course but at the Sharks, it apparently is not.
We are told that the players from time to time are not fully committed. How can this be, unless the change room is not always on the same page as the coaches’ box?
Some Springbok players are coming back to the @CellC Sharks from rotational leave and return to the starting line-up for the game against the @Reds_Rugby on Friday at JONSSON KINGS PARK.— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) April 16, 2019
See the full team release here: https://t.co/aCjsD491f1#SHAvRED #OurSharksForever pic.twitter.com/V0ccbv42TM
To be fair, it surely doesn’t help that much of the team is leaving (for Europe), as is the chief executive. It is not healthy that one of the Sharks’ most talented players, Curwin Bosch, has been in talks with Western Province for a move to the Cape.
The 21-year-old no doubt feels he is not getting a decent shake in Durban, and who can blame him? From the outside, it seems that some players are un-droppable whereas a player like Bosch makes one mistake and he is gone. Some would speculate that there is one set of rules for some players and another set for the rest.
To reiterate, social media is awash with discontented Sharks fans, and fair enough to them because the frustration they are feeling has been a long time coming - and there doesn’t appear to be any resolution in sight.@MikeGreenaway67