Balie runs the rule over Sharks scrum
Balie runs the rule over Sharks scrumSHARE
World Cup winner and former Springbok prop Balie Swart has been roped in to doctor the Sharks' ailing scrum back to health.
Sharks forwards coach Brad Macleod-Henderson, speaking to this website ahead of the team's Currie Cup trip to Newlands this coming Saturday, admitted that the scrums remain a source of concern.
The men from Durban, despite being on a three-match winning streak and sitting pretty in first place on the standings, have constantly been on the wrong side of the referee's whistle in the set pieces.
And who better to run the rule over the Sharks scrum than the very man that has been 'coaching' referees about scrums.
It is worth noting that the one team that has constantly used Swart's services this year, the Golden Lions, is the least penalised outfit in the set pieces.
That is because they understand what referees are looking at under the new 'crouch-bind-set' scrum sequence.
Macleod-Henderson admitted they have had some issues.
"We gave away four penalties [in the 34-18 over the Blue Bulls last week] and we certainly were not happy with that," the Sharks mentor told this website.
"We have asked Balie Swart to come help us with our scrumming," he said, adding: "[He will tell us] what he has been explaining to the referees to look at.
"Hopefully that will clear up a few grey areas.
"It has been a bit of a disappointing area for us, but hopefully after this [session with Swart] we would have sorted that out."
Macleod-Henderson said there are a few aspects to look at, with some of the problems related to their technique and how they were setting up to scrum.
"Some of them we were potentially hard done by and maybe other factors that the referee wasn't taking into account, when he ended up penalising us.
"Hopefully the visit by Balie will have not resolved that [any lingering issues]," Macleod-Henderson added.
The other aspects of the forwards' game have been very pleasing to the coach.
"We are very fortunate, we have some fantastic players in Durban," he said, adding: "You always want perfection and we aim top improve every week.
"We have shown some nice growth and the team as a whole has come together nicely."
The Sharks made a nervous start, a last-minute loss to Griquas in the opening round in Durban.
However, by winning their next three matches they have moved to the top of the log – two points clear of the second-placed Free State Cheetahs and this week's opposition Western Province, who are both on 12 points.
"We are growing as a group," the forwards coach said of the wins over Golden Lions, Cheetahs and Bulls.
"Everybody were relatively new at the start of the campaign," he said of a new coaching panel headed by Director of Rugby Brendan Venter.
"We had one week's preparation and then match week – there was quite a lot to digest.
"We are becoming more comfortable with each other and growing quite nicely as a team."
Asked what it was that Venter brought that was different, Macleod-Henderson spoke of "a couple of things" that they are doing on defence and attack that are slightly different to what the guys were used to in the past.
"It is a bit of a blend," he said, adding: "We wanted to use what was working in the past and then add a few new things that we were hoping would stand us in good stead."
By Jan de Koning