Water off a duck’s back. That was the reaction of the Sharks to Blues coach David Nucifora’s sour-grapes comments in New Zealand after arriving home from defeat in Durban.
Mike Greenaway reports in The Mercury.
Australian Nucifora suggested that refereeing interpretations accounted more for his team’s loss than the Sharks’ performance.
He denied that the Durban team were the Blues’ bogey side – or serious title contenders – even though the Blues had lost four in a row to the Sharks.
John Plumtree, the Sharks’ forwards coach, was amused more than anything else.
“At the end of the day, they might not rate us, but it was us who took the points,” he smiled.
“We are getting used to David complaining. He criticised us last year (in Auckland) for being over-vigorous and may well have had a cry after the semifinal (in Durban), I am not sure.
“I wonder if he criticised the referee after they won by 50 points in Bloemfontein the week before?” he said.
“The thing is, we knew what to expect with the referee (Australian Brett Bowden).
“In the modern, professional game you play to the referee. In any case, we were the team that was heavily penalised by the ref – the Blues had 10 free kicks and 10 penalties and we had two free kicks and two penalties,” added Plumtree.
Nucifora said the Sharks would find touring tough after having lost several experienced Springboks since last year. He said the Sharks were “good at the style of game you saw really well”, hinting that they were a limited team.
Again, Plumtree was indifferent to the comments.
“We knew that we could not let them have space and time to attack. We were aggressive in what we did (not letting them play), because we knew we had to be,” said Plumtree.
Nucifora accused the Sharks of “flopping over” at the rucks to slow the ball down and of not rolling away after tackling.
Plumtree responded: “We have found that referees are very strict on the tackler rolling away, and we have been practising doing that. But we have found that often it is very hard to roll away because the first and second arrivals at the tackle-ball get there so fast.”Tweet