Having played two massive games – against the Bulls and Cheetahs – which would have required a huge mental effort from the Sharks to achieve the results they did, Coach John Plumtree admitted that perhaps the players weren’t at the same level for the Valke game last Saturday.
Michael Marnewick writes for www.sharksrugby.co.za.
“I think the boys were down mentally against the Valke,” he said. “They also had a real challenge with the conditions, it was a tough ground with a big cross wind so these weren’t the most pleasant conditions to play in, but I was happy with some of the tries we scored and we got the job done.
“But in terms of standards, we didn’t quite get there.”
With the Sharks choosing to rest some players and give any with minor niggles the weekend off, there was a break in continuity and the Coach doesn’t feel that there is any cause for concern. “You can’t read too much into that game,” he explained.
“We had a big fortnight with the Bulls and Cheetahs at home and having a game like that away was always going to be difficult for the boys to get up there, but this weekend is totally different.”
He admitted that with the top five sides all pushing hard for semi and final spots, or home semis, “since we’ve got ourselves into a good position, we don’t want to relinquish it.”
There are going to be a number of personnel changes for the must-win Lions game on Saturday, victory almost certainly assuring the Sharks of finishing the round stages in top spot, primed to play at home in the play-offs but the Coach has high regard for this weekend’s opposition.
“We have a lot of respect for the Lions, they are a good side and have done well, we have to make sure we go up there and be accurate as possible in everything we do and the intensity has got to be there because there is a lot to play for. The result could be decided by who wants it more on the day.”
In expected changes, front rowers Bismarck du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira are both available while amongst the backs, Odwa Ndungane and Stefan Terblanche return to the training pitch to push for inclusion. Deon Carstens (calf injury) is the only player not assured of being selected and he will be monitored through the week.
The team will be named on Thursday.Tweet