Sharks assistant coach John Plumtree is not taking the Reds lightly this weekend – in a game that is crucial for the unbeaten Durban franchise in order to keep in touch with the Crusaders.
Steve Farrell writes for Rugby 365 that the Sharks enjoyed some downtime this weekend with the players being given the Easter Weekend off to recuperate before a tough second half of the Super 14.
Plumtree spoke to Rugby365.com and said the only injury worry ahead of the Reds clash was that of super sub, Adrian Jacobs, who has a slight hamstring strain.
Other than that the Sharks are rearing to get stuck into the Reds.
Plumtree said that they won’t be taking the rejuvenated Reds lightly this weekend.
“You’ve got to treat every team in the competition with the utmost respect,” he said.
“You saw what they did to the Bulls, and they got a good draw against the Lions, so they will be no pushover on Saturday,” added Plumtree.
The Reds forward pack looked vulnerable when the Lions decided to maul it up, but Plumtree said the Sharks had no specific plan to keep it tight on Saturday.
“We’re not a side that sticks to specific structures,” he said.
“We will have a plan in place but we will play whatever opportunity presents itself.
“If the conditions allow us to play with width, we will do so,” he added.
The Durban-based franchise are blessed with plenty of depth in their squad, which is a crucial factor in a tournament like the Super 14 that spans three-and-a-half months.
Plumtree said that the Sharks were lucky in this regard.
“We have a number of multi-talented players who can play different positions,” said Plumtree.
“Guys like Frans Steyn, Adi Jacobs and Waylon Murray can cover various positions in the backline.
“We also have one of the strongest front rows in the competition, which is crucial in the Super 14,” added Plumtree.
Plumtree said that having sufficient depth in the squad was important as “it keeps the players on their toes.”
The Sharks now have the tough task of playing eight matches on the trot, but Plumtree was fairly happy with where is team were at the halfway stage of the Super 14.
“We haven’t scored as many tries as we would have liked, but that has got a lot to do with the conditions in Durban,” he said, referring to the extreme humidity in the coastal city.
“Playing rugby in Durban in February and March is not ideal.
“Playing with a slippery ball makes it difficult to score tries,” he emphasised.
“But we’ve only conceded five tries which is testament to our defence,” he said.
A win is paramount for the Sharks this weekend.
With the Crusaders widening the gap at the top, it’s important that the Sharks continue winning in order to keep in touch with the log leaders.
“Every week is a big week,” emphasised Plumtree.
“We want to keep the momentum going,” he said.
The fact that the Sharks head off on their arduous five-match tour next week makes a win this weekend even more important.
“This week’s a big week, as is next week.
“If you slip up on any given day, you end up sliding down the log,” he added.
The Sharks will want to keep within a win of the Crusaders, so are they going to play a more adventurous brand of rugby in the coming weeks?
“It all depends on the conditions.
“Places like Wellington and Dunedin can get pretty rough, so hopefully the weather will be kind on us in New Zealand.
“If the conditions are suitable we will attack,” he added.
The Sharks are flying the South African flag at the moment, and are looking good for a semifinal berth.
A win against the Reds on Saturday will be the perfect tonic ahead of their gruelling Australasian tour.Tweet