Sharks are ‘thugs’ and ‘cheats’

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A Sunday newspaper writer reported last weekend that the Sharks were “thugs” and intimated that they could be “cheats”; because of the manner in which they lost by 50 points to the Crusaders in Durban a month ago, the author mentioning in the same article the name of Hansie Cronje, and quoting Gary Gold as saying after the Crusaders game: “I was disappointed at how the players showed no urgency in chasing bouncing balls in our 22.”

Unscrupulous journalism or sheer mischief mischief-making? Surely both.

It was left to arguably the most scrupulous of the Sharks to answer this when Marcell Coetzee fielded a call yesterday on this matter.

“Ya, we have heard about the stuff being said about us,” he said.

“Honestly, though, does anybody really think that about the Sharks ... ?

“Alright, we understand that this is rugby country and nobody is going to give us a comfortable time. And we have been talking about how teams are going to niggle us for a long time. For us, it is a case of literally taking it on the chin.

“We are going to get targeted, but we also have painfully learned what it means to a team when a senior player is taken out of the game and suspended. These are guys you look up to but can no longer play. So we have decided on this tour to look after each other and not cross the line, however we might be provoked.”

Coetzee said that his roommate is none other than Bismarck du Plessis, who has come back into the team but has not resumed the captaincy after a discussion with coach Gold.

The feeling has been that the temperamental Du Plessis must concentrate on his game without the added pressures of captaincy and that current skipper Marco Wentzel, the 35-year-old lock, is doing a competent job.

“Bizzie is my roommie and he is a bundle of determination,” Coetzee said. “He is fresh and working very hard, he took no holiday while suspended, and his return brings a lot of confidence and world class experience.”

Young hooker Franco Marais has been impressive in Du Plessis’s absence, leap-frogging Kyle Cooper, but the recall of a world class player of Du Plessis’s calibre was never in doubt.

In another encouraging change to the pack, arguably the best up-and-coming forward last year, Stephan Lewies, is back in the second row. The Sharks have also been boosted by the return to fitness of JP Pietersen, who bolsters the backline. He’s in for Waylon Murray at outside centre.

Kick-off: 9.35am tomorrow SA time. - The Star

Original source: Sharks are ‘thugs’ and ‘cheats’

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