Kyle Cooper. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/STEVE HAAG
Kyle Cooper. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/STEVE HAAG

IT IS fair to say the Sharks have reached a point of no return in their Super Rugby campaign, which has lurched from one low to the next.

With Cobus Reinach having left the tour due to a broken hand, they are now scraping the barrel in the No 9 position and their reluctance to call up another scrumhalf is bemusing.

Hooker Kyle Cooper has been called up as a replacement even though Bismarck du Plessis demonstrated why the Sharks had missed him during his four-week hiatus.

Former Sharks looseforward Wayne Fyvie said he was glad to have missed last Friday’s 48-15 hammering against the Highlanders but feels the side needs to apply the hard lessons of the season quickly.

Whether they can do so on Saturday against the high-flying Hurricanes is a different story.

"It is going to be a hard tournament for them and I know how they feel at the moment," Fyvie said.

"I was part of that 2000 Super 12 team that had a dismal campaign and it wasn’t a happy place to be.

"Through tough times you learn some of your hardest lessons and that is the one positive that could come out of this season," he said.

"When you’re in a downward spiral, it is often difficult trying to get out of it, but I’m sure they will be working hard in terms of getting things right where the potential issues are.

"They’ve had a lot of injuries and other potential excuses but it has been a tough tournament for them."

Whatever steps were taken after the Easter Weekend decimation at the hands of the Crusaders were erased in the face of a cultured attacking lesson from a Highlanders unit that clearly enjoys playing against South African sides.

The Sharks have now conceded 16 tries in three matches against New Zealand teams and the Hurricanes will relish the opportunity of facing Gary Gold’s defensively inept charges.

Beauden Barrett’s fitness, due to a knee injury sustained against the Crusaders, may be an issue Chris Boyd’s side will need to worry about. However, a team that has missed 103 tackles in their four matches should not be one to lose sleep over.

There is also the small matter of the axe John Plumtree has to grind with the Sharks after his unceremonious dismissal nearly two years ago, even though his tenure was also not built on granite defensive discipline.

The Sharks have shipped 31 tries in 11 matches, the same number conceded in the 2012 and 2013 regular seasons. The big difference is their impotence in getting to the whitewash, with only 22 tries scored.

Fyvie said the basic tenets of attitude and commitment in defence could be one of the reasons the Sharks had been abysmal defensively.

"Defence is about attitude and commitment. You can talk patterns and all sorts of things but you have to have the right attitude and commitment to the cause. Everyone has to be on the same page because there will be missed tackles and if they are missed, your teammate must be ready to cover for you. There would be alarm bells ringing if those are missing," Fyvie said.

"As a spectator, there have been games where they have shown commitment on defence but from what you have seen in the best part of the season that hasn’t been the case."

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