Bismarck du Plessis, with an act of petulance against the Chiefs, showed once again that he isn't captaincy material, writes BRENTON CHELIN.
This isn't the first time Du Plessis has lashed out violently on a rugby field, and it won't be the last.
The Springbok hooker let himself and his team down with his actions in Durban on Saturday, and he should be punished accordingly by the Sharks' management.
Earlier this year the Sharks announced a four-man leadership group for the Vodacom Super Rugby season. Three of those players featured in Saturday's battle royale – two were sent off.
Frans Steyn and Du Plessis have well over 100 Springbok caps combined between the two of them, they should've known better.
Pat Lambie took over in trying circumstances, and showed all the coolness with his leadership that has become a hallmark of his flyhalf play, to guide the Sharks to a vital 12-11 win.
There is no predicting what might've transpired had it remained 15 against 14 when Hika Elliot saw red for a shoulder charge on Tendai Mtawarira, but the actions of two of the Sharks' purported leaders very nearly cost them the match.
While Steyn has been let off the hook for his misdemeanour, Du Plessis will miss the next month of rugby, ruling him out of the crucial home matches against the Crusaders and Bulls. Lambie will likely fill in as captain in his absence, but there is a case for him receiving the job on a full-time basis.
As opposed to Du Plessis's confrontational and volatile demeanour, Lambie's personality gels well with captaincy. His calm and assured nature provides a positive influence on the players.
Du Plessis, when he returns to the fold, will remain a key component in the Sharks' makeup. Without him, the Sharks struggled in the scrums against the Cheetahs on the opening weekend, while he remains one of the best ball-stealers in the game.
However, he too often oversteps the line towards destructive aggression. He was lucky to escape a ban after a stamp on Lappies Labuschagne in the 2013 Currie Cup semi-final, which would've ruled him out of the final.
There was also the needless scrap with Victor Matfield at Loftus earlier this season, for which he apologised. The evidence is becoming too difficult to ignore.
The Sharks physical approach often sees them right on the edge of the legal boundaries, but the thuggery witnessed on Saturday cannot be condoned.
A change is needed if they're to alter the perception they've started to cultivate, and it needs to start at the top.
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