There is an old saying that goes, if it isn’t broken don’t fix it, and Sharks veteran Deon Carstens says he is relieved to see that the coastal franchise is taking that old adage to heart ahead of this Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup final against the Bulls.
The inimitable Craig Lewis writes for www.iol.co.za.
“I’ve been part of teams in the past when last minute changes have really backfired, but this week we’re trying to keep things exactly the same as we have over the past 16-odd weeks. The more you change the more room you leave for error, so we are going through the week in exactly the same manner we always have.”
Sharks coach John Plumtree, who has been involved in numerous finals, as both captain and player, said he was just doing his utmost to prepare the team as well as possible.
“I’ve been in this situation a lot and there’s no right recipe, it’s all about what happens on the day. I’m just trying to prepare this team as best I know. The two teams may have different strategies and different ways of preparing, but I’ve just been focused on doing what I can do. In the end, I also have to stand back and just watch them perform, but I’m really just excited about the challenge.”
Carstens, who has played an integral role in this year’s domestic showpiece, said it was incredibly rewarding to see that the entire team’s hard work was coming to fruition.
“You can feel every day the tension is building and the guys are getting geared up. We wanted a home semi and we wanted a home final, which we got. Now, on Saturday, I’m sure there’ll be a great home crowd, so hopefully we can use it to our advantage and go that one step further.”
On Saturday, a sell out crowd of around 54 000 will turn up to get behind the two teams and although the large majority will obviously be Sharks supporters, if last year’s Super 14 final is anything to go by, there is sure to be a healthy portion of Bulls supporters as well. Nevertheless, Carstens said playing at home certainly gave them a bit of a “psychological edge”.
The 29-year-old, who is almost certain to be named on the bench, said the depth in this squad had been a crucial ingredient in their Currie Cup campaign so far and said they could well “reap the rewards” on Saturday.
“One of our strengths throughout the season is that we’ve not just been a 22-man squad but a team of 30-odd. That’s what John (Plumtree) and the rest of the management have done well, they’ve kept us all involved and ensured it’s been a real team effort..”
The impact of the Sharks’ star-studded bench has certainly been absolutely prolific on numerous occasions this season and there is no doubt the role of the substitutes will have a significant bearing on the outcome of the final.
Thankfully for the Sharks, though, there should be no repeat of last year’s Super 14 final when John Smit was substituted only to watch in horror as the team conspired to lose a game that they’d had in the bag.
On this occasion, Smit is set to play off the bench and his leadership will be crucial in the final quarter, especially if the Sharks are trailing or have only established a tenuous lead.
Carstens said he certainly didn’t care how they won the final.
“It’s just about winning on Saturday and it doesn’t matter who does it. If Beast kicks the winning drop-goal, I’ll be the happiest man in the world,” he said with a laugh.Tweet