JP Pietersen is happy to play the role of mentor in Durban. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

DURBAN – JP Pietersen did not have the happy homecoming he had envisaged last week when Griquas sacked Jonsson Kings Park, and now he has got to roll up his sleeves and set the example against Western Province.

The Capetonians visit Durban on the back of a strong performance in downing the Bulls while the Sharks are picking up the pieces after their shock 37-13 defeat.

“It is difficult to point out one thing that was at fault,” the 32-year-old said yesterday after the Sharks had been through a robust defence session under Nick Easter.

“I think the all-round team performance was simply below average. We said (pre-season) we’d pride ourselves on our work rate and, to be honest with ourselves, we lacked that.”

Pietersen says the commitment is there from the players and with that the Sharks can be fixed.

“We feel like we are one game away we just need some gel time,” Pietersen said. “The effort has been going in at training this week, the players are standing up and on Saturday we have to deliver but it is not a case of us needing to be reprimanded by the coaches.

There are guys a lot of young talent that needs to learn how structure works, and how to be disciplined in the game plan.

“As a team we have the quality to get there, we will grow,” he stressed. “We have got new coaches and I am new to this team. There are guys that have come up from age group rugby.”

JP Pietersen says the commitment is there from the players and with that the Sharks can be fixed. Photo: Ross Setford/EPA

Pietersen pointed out that the problem does not lie with coaching but rather about the players caring for each other and the game plan.

“As individuals there is frustration when you lose the ball; when you can’t get into the game; when you want the ball back to try stuff and it doesn’t come; and then you give penalties away that is how you get out of the team structure.”

In other words the players have to learn patience and to control only what they can and not get too carried away. It is also about the older hands putting up their hands and leading the way.

“Sometimes it is about helping the youngsters understand where in the structure they need to be and the need to concentrate on the game plan for the whole 80 minutes. I must also help the coaches to get their message across to the younger players on the field because sometimes they are scared to ask the coach questions.

“I tell them there are no stupid questions in rugby… that they must express themselves and not be afraid.’’



The Mercury

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