It was a throwaway remark from Directors of Sharks Rugby Gary Gold regarding the captaincy of the team going forward, but there could well be underlying substance in his response to a question late last week regarding Bismarck du Plessis’ leadership.
The Springbok hooker next week completes a four-week ban for kicking a Chiefs players in the head and is available for the Sharks’ first tour game, against the Highlanders in Dunedin on May 1.
“I still need to have that conversation with Bismarck,” Gold said on the eve of the match against the Bulls, which the visitors deservedly won 17-10 at the weekend “We are not under pressure to make that decision because we have a bye this week, and need to have a close look at the makeup of the squad.
“There are a couple of guys coming back, it’s not only Bismarck. (Centre) Paul Jordaan is back (from a hip injury sustained last year) and a key lock in Stephan Lewies is back in action. Frans Steyn and JP Pietersen will be back as well so we have to look at the permutations as we comprise our tour squad.”
But will there be an outcry of belligerent Bismarck resumes the leadership? The combative hooker is proving to be a time bomb, and after the first-round match against the Bulls, he felt compelled to issue a public apology for the petulant manner in which he reacted to niggling from wily veteran Victor Matfield.
Bismarck has a target on his back and the niggling most certainly is not going to stop over the Sharks’ last six games.
Surely the 30-year-old would be better off concentrating solely on his game without the additional responsibility of captaincy? He is one of the world’s best players and can best rediscover that form without the encumbrance of the captaincy.
“I haven’t necessarily thought about whether there would be an outcry or not,” Gold said of Du Plessis retaining the captaincy,after last year being given that role by then coach Jake White.
Gold inherited the leadership structure.
“I just have to think about what is the best decision for the Sharks, and that is the decision we have to make,” Gold said revealingly.
The current captain is Marco Wentzel, and the experienced 34-year-old has been in charge of two spirited performances by the Sharks, albeit in losses to the Lions and the Bulls.
The Sharks have already lost Du Plessis’ replacement captain, Patrick Lambie, to injury, and then another captain this year, Jean Deysel, was banned for seven weeks. It would make sense to keep Wentzel at the helm and let Bismarck do what he does best – smash the opposition to smithereens, in the framework of the law book.
The Sharks have lost four matches from 10.
They are ninth on the log and seven points behind SA Conference leaders, the Bulls, but have played one more game than the other SA teams.
The Sharks are entering the last chance saloon in terms of the play-offs, with their tour to come. This is not the time for sentimental decisions.
by Mike Greenaway
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