DURBAN - The outcome of the Currie Cup final and, perhaps more significantly, the manner in which Western Province achieved their victory, has left some serious posers for the Sharks as they digest how they were outplayed two matches in a row by the Capetonians (taking into account the dress rehearsal a fortnight before).
The two matches at Kings Park were a carbon copy of each other, with the Sharks dominating the early exchanges and then fading and having no answer when they were behind on the scoreboard.
The question will be asked as to whether the Sharks have the capacity to revert to another style of play when their A game, based on forward domination, is made redundant.
Further, if the Sharks continue their preferred style of play into Super Rugby, will Curwin Bosch be entrusted with the generalship or will he be accommodated at fullback, the position he occupied for the South Africa Under-20 team?
The Sharks, and Bosch, played some excellent rugby over the course of the Currie Cup, but Super Rugby is at a considerably higher level.
Robert du Preez jr, the man of the match in the Currie Cup pool game and close to it in the final, could not have asked for better opportunities to show what he will bring to the Sharks when he joins them for pre-season training later this year.
He can be a different type of flyhalf to Bosch. He revels in taking the ball to the line and he tackles well, although it has been written that Du Preez was not the strongest of defenders when he left school in KwaZulu-Natal and worked on getting this aspect of his game right in the Cape.
You have to feel for Bosch. He has so many special skills and is a superb athlete.
His ability to make drop goals look so easy is a mark of his talent. Few in world rugby kick as well out of hand and at goal as him. He has pace and can pass skilfully but on the counter, he has been exposed on defence.
In the final, his first-half drop-goal from a retreating scrum had observers wowing in appreciation, but then came two half-tackles that led to Province tries. From hero to villain and, later perhaps, scapegoat.
Bosch is still a work in progress, but can you coach the appetite to put in big hits? Or can you work around this problem?
Many years ago, Butch James revealed that he was an apprehensive tackler at Maritzburg College and in a bid to overcome this, he began throwing himself at ball carriers. And when the hits started landing and the spectators roared with approval, he began revelling in defence. His weakness became his famous strength.
In the late 1990s, the Sharks had a gifted flyhalf in Gaffie du Toit, another drop-goal expert, but his limitation was that he was by no means a physical player. His star burnt bright, but quickly on the international stage and he was discarded. Big-match temperament or rather the lack of it, was muted, although many would argue that he was rushed from Griquas to the Springbok No 10 jersey with indecent haste.
Bosch is, of course, his own unique man and the Boks are treating him with kid gloves in recognition of the rare talent that he has. He is still just 20. He will be taking in the last month and processing it all.
But how will he be utilised at the Sharks going forward? In the week of the final coach Robert du Preez stated that too much was made of “ball-in-hand rugby” and that the Sharks were evolving their own brand of South African rugby. He stated that the Sharks were not a New Zealand team (inferring they would not simply copy the Kiwi way of playing).
Interestingly, Du Preez jr is on Saturday playing for the Barbarians against the All Blacks at Twickenham. It will be another great opportunity this season for the 24-year-old to showcase his skill set in what should be an open game of running rugby.
Meanwhile, Super Rugby is not that far off and the events of the last few weeks have given the Sharks plenty of food for thought. In terms of playing style, perhaps the reality check was not the defeat in the pool game but the (repeat) defeat in the final.