Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
27 Apr 2017
2:20 pm

Is Tera Mtembu perhaps not prickly enough for the Jaguares?

Heinz Schenk

The solidity of the Sharks' leadership has been questioned recently and perhaps the flanker is not the ideal fit against the Argentinians.

Not in charge this week: Tera Mtembu. Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images.

It’s not exactly a full-blown demotion but Tera Mtembu won’t be captaining the Sharks against the Jaguares on Saturday.

Coach Robert du Preez on Thursday named a side sporting seven changes for the trip to Buenos Aires, with the 26-year-old flanker sitting on the bench.

There’s a certain amount of intrigue over that move.

Also read: WATCH: Andre Esterhuizen and Sharks feel the pain of his ban

Mtembu took over the captaincy following the injury to Pat Lambie and looked competent.

But last week’s dire 9-all draw against the Rebels perhaps exposed the Sharks’ inexperienced leadership core.

Du Preez backed every on-field decision Mtembu made afterwards yet perhaps felt against the prickly Argentinians, the team needs a more grizzled leader.

As a result, the veteran Philip van der Walt will lead the side this weekend.

That said, Mtembu’s workload has been heavy to date as well.

Though a late decision was made to rather rest him, Springbok prop Beast Mtawarira gave a glimpse as to what a pressurised atmosphere the Durbanites will experience.

“The Jaguares lift their game at home and feed off the crowd,” he said.

“It’s a different atmosphere. There’s a lot of noise and loud music that plays. It is a vibe that can throw you off your game but you also need to feed off it. You don’t get the opportunity much to do so.”

Discipline is very much in focus at the moment when it comes to the Sharks.

They’ve lost influential centre Andre Esterhuizen for six weeks following a tip tackle and face the most undisciplined team in this year’s tournament.

The Jaguares also have no problem dragging opponents down to their level.

To emerge from this trip unscathed, the Sharks – for one thing – will need to keep the tackles low.

Yet that’s easier said than done.

“Every season there are law changes,” said Mtawarira.

“You simply have to adapt. It’s your responsibility to train within those new laws. There are going to be marginal calls and of course you inhibit yourself a bit because you’re wary of a card. But it’s something you can’t change.”

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