DURBAN – The Sharks yesterday departed for Canberra for their Super Rugby quarter-final against the Brumbies under something of a cloud after their controversial coach celebrated victory over the Stormers with an attack on the media.
Well let’s at least grant Robert du Preez extenuating circumstances for his scarcely believable attack on the KwaZulu-Natal media that is tasked with objectively reporting on the Sharks.
The coach would have been highly emotional after watching Lukhanyo Am snatch a post-hooter try to rescue a 12-9 win for his team, but in the cold light of day, even the most steadfast of Sharks fans would accept that to celebrate that jailbreak-win against a horribly depleted Stormers team would mean celebrating mediocrity.
The reality is that Saturday’s match between the Sharks and Stormers was one of the worst of the entire Super Rugby season, and the below-par performance of both teams was starkly highlighted by the huge step up in quality of the derby between the Lions and Bulls at Loftus later that day.
For the Sharks, whatever happens in Canberra, the bottom line is that the statistics do not flatter Du Preez as his fourth season in charge winds down. Since he took over at the beginning of 2016, he has won less than half of his Super Rugby matches (48%).
This confirms that under Du Preez the Sharks have shown no growth since he took over and that the team, considering the quality of their squad, need a new coach to take them further.
Given the Sharks’ inability to put away the wavering Stormers, it is a significant boost for the Sharks that Curwin Bosch has recovered from an ankle injury sustained against the Jaguares and has been included in their squad for their quarter-final.
The team departed for Australia on Sunday evening without Tendai Mtawarira, who is struggling with the knee injury that made him a late withdrawal against the Stormers.
In further setbacks for the Sharks, Philip van der Walt and Jean-Luc du Preez have been ruled out of the trip.
Better news is that Craig Burden has been included after recovering from a hamstring tweak that ruled him out of the Stormers match.
Makazole Mapimpi has also made the touring squad despite coming off with a concussion against the Stormers.