Thursday, September 09, 2010
Regular columnist Ross Skeate of the Natal Sharks gives us an update today on how life has been treating him on the east coast of South Africa. Having started the season well with his new side, he's had a bit of a set back but remains positive, giving us his thoughts on the Sharks, the Boks, and the future for the All Blacks.
So, I moved to Durban and have been spending much of my time slowing my lifestyle, and my heartbeat, down to a minimum pace (yes, even more so than the Cote DAzur), enjoying the amazing Durban hospitality and vibe while throwing every inch of myself into Sharks rugby.
I must be honest when I tell you moving from one squad into the next is somewhat difficult, fitting in with the culture inherent in the side as well as the systems that are in place is never the easiest fluid transition. Its a bit like changing schools really.
Change though invariably is a good thing and arriving into a team such as this one with the kind of players and potential that make up the squad has made it all the more exciting and seamless. This is one top outfit I can assure you that. Of course its easier coming back into a South African rugby set up as opposed to when I arrived into a French one about two years ago now.
But dont get me wrong, settling into this team and this set up has been great, as so have most of the results (with the small exception of our first game against Griquas which we somehow managed to lose and that slip-up to the Bulls last week) but other than that I have good news for you all. Well, I am going to be a father! Jokes. Seriously.
I, am however undefeated as a Shark as I missed that first game which is probably the reason why we lost. Yes, yes another poor attempt at humour.
Although suffering those two losses and after having completed the first round of Currie Cup we currently sit top of the log and looking straight ahead to a home semi. Always mindful though of course that a whole lot of hard work lies in our path to that particular success. Seriously hoping that Im not jinxing anything here!
Now in no way am I getting ahead of myself, I am just saying that we could come away with some silverware (or gold-plated if youre looking for a literal) but with a hell of a lot of hard work and a great big dash of good old-fashioned luck. That extraordinary nail-biting loss to Clermont in the Top 14 semi last season still rankles if only Gabi Lovabalavu had managed to sneak that ball to me. Arrghh! Sorry recurring nightmare.
And how about those Springboks?
Wow the boys have been having a tough time of it and I dont envy them at all. I have to say that I think the All Blacks are playing some amazing rugby with so much tempo and accuracy. But are they peaking too early, yet again, before next years World Cup? Maybe, maybe not and certainly the Boks have themselves been quite disappointed with their performances, and so has the media. Harsh, to say the least.
Unluckily the recent loss against the Aussies after the come-from-behind victory a week before did nothing to ease the tension. I actually saw a few of the Aussie boys having a quiet drink in Umhlanga (a small little community outside of Durban where I currently hang my hat) not too long before that final test. I really did not think Kurtley Beale was going to slot that final kick, wow, he did well.
I do think that the Springboks shall, and need to, find a new style or approach sooner than later. I am sure there are problems in the side, there are problems in every side as no squad is absolutely perfect but I have no doubt that with such a quality bunch of players they will find their feet again and quickly.
The All Blacks have caught everyone off their feet a bit with how theyre playing. But the Springboks, being who they are, shall find something soon thatll enable them to wrestle back the momentum of world rugby in their favour.
And you know what, I actually think its a good thing, the losses that is. But before you gasp in horror hear me out.
Before the World Cup year next year wouldnt you rather have a team in the situation that the Springboks are in now? Struggling for some form but with so much potential and the few losses stirring their ambitions to greatness.
Richie McCaw even said himself that last years difficulties spurred the All Blacks to the type of form they have found this year. Being a Springbok supporter myself I am confident because of this. I actually would be more concerned as an All Black supporter worrying that my team is peaking too early. Think that Im on to something here?
So, as they say, only time will tell - as usual.
Heres looking forward to the rest of the Currie Cup, some more game time, as soon as this little groin injury allows me, and to the bright future of Springbok rugby.
All my best