Sharks fullback Stefan Terblanche and head coach John Plumtree were given a little something extra to celebrate after the Sharks’ Absa Currie Cup triumph in Durban at the weekend, with the duo named as Absa Currie Cup Player and Coach of the Month, respectively, for October. Terblanche – a veteran of two Rugby World Cup campaigns for South Africa – is enjoying something of a rugby renaissance at the moment, having returned to Durban on a full-time basis this year after an enjoyable spell at Welsh club, the Ospreys.
The 33-year-old, who made his first-class debut for Boland back in 1994, has been in sparkling form for the newly-crowned Absa Currie Cup champions and played a key role in their triumph this season.
Not only did Terblanche walk off with Man-of-the-Match honours in the Sharks’ 29-14 semifinal win over the Xerox Lions on October 11, but he was also a star performer in Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup Final as the Sharks ended their 12-year Absa Currie Cup drought with a hard-fought 14-9 win over the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
Terblanche and coach Plumtree were each rewarded with R10,000 in prize money and they were also presented with exclusive miniature replicas of the Absa Currie Cup trophy.
The Coach of the Month is voted for by a five-man panel of top media personalities in South Africa, whilst all eight coaches in the Absa Currie Cup were once again asked to nominate their Player of the Month for October – as they did in July, August and September.
Loose forwards Cobus Grobbelaar (Xerox Lions), Heinrich Brüssow (Vodacom FS Cheetahs) and Jean Deysel (Sharks) were all nominated for the October Player of the Month Award, along with scrumhalves Ruan Pienaar (Sharks) and Fourie du Preez (Vodacom Blue Bulls) – the star duo, of course, having opposed each other in Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup Final.
Brüssow (July), Deysel (August) and Pienaar (September) are all former Absa Currie Cup Player of the Month winners, but Terblanche was pleased to find himself as October’s Man of the Moment.
“To be honest, I don’t really know how to describe my feelings at the moment,” said the Sharks veteran. “There’s relief, joy, excitement – it was just fantastic to win the Absa Currie Cup in front of our own people; supporters, family and friends.”
And speaking about the Absa Currie Cup Player of the Month Award itself, Terblanche added: “It’s a wonderful honour. I guess it’s always nice to be recognized in any walk of life, but it’s something of a cherry on top for me after Saturday, and I’d like to thank to everyone that voted for me.
“I’m also very happy for the coach (John Plumtree) for his award. He’s done a wonderful job at the Sharks and he deserves all the accolades coming his way at present.”
Plumtree was the obvious choice as October’s Absa Currie Cup of the Month, having also walked away with September’s gong en route to guiding his team into the final… and then to overall glory.
Under Plumtree’s guidance, the Sharks lost just twice this Absa Currie Cup season – the last of which came on July 19. The Men from Durban scored a whopping 450 points in 14 league matches, conceding just 243 points and scoring 57 tries in the process, before beating the Lions and the Bulls in the play-offs to win their fifth Absa Currie Cup title.
Sunday Times sports editor Clinton van den Berg – one of five members of the well-respected media voting panel – explained why he voted for Plumtree as October’s Coach of the Month.
“His lead-up to the Absa Currie Cup Final was near-flawless, as was his approach to the final,” wrote Van den Berg.
“The Sharks peaked at just the right time and it’s a measure of his coaching skills that they controlled the final to win a major trophy for the first time in 12 years. He was miles ahead of anyone.”
Van den Berg’s fellow panelists were once again Owen Nkumane (SuperSport analyst and commentator), senior Rapport journalist JJ Harmse, SABC radio commentator Mtutuzeli Scott and Rugga Zone host David O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan added: “My Coach of the Month is the man who wept tears of joy in the final game of the season – John Plumtree. He was under enormous pressure, and pulled off the ‘Big One’. He was responsible for the best performing team of the Absa Currie Cup season.”
Plumtree, ironically, played for the Sharks the last time they won the Absa Currie Cup – in 1996 – with the New Zealand-born coach coming off the bench as a replacement for Wickus van Heerden, the uncle of Blue Bulls flanker Wikus van Heerden.
“It’s nice to be recognised,” said a modest Plumtree, “but I’m simply taking credit for all the hard work put in by those around me.”
Speaking after his team’s titanic 14-9 win over the Bulls in the Absa Currie Cup Final, Plumtree added: “I didn’t think we’d lose that game, I always thought it was ours.
“I would have liked to have won it slightly differently, but it was a pressure game against fantastic opponents and we got there in the end.”
Meanwhile, Desiree Pooe – Marketing Manager, Sponsorships Absa – expressed her delight at the success of the Absa Currie Cup Player and Coach of the Month Awards, a new initiative in 2008.
“Absa and the Absa Currie Cup is all about excellence and so are these awards,” said Pooe. “We see it as an honour and a nice boost for the players and coaches and we’ve been really happy with how everyone has warmed to the challenge this past season.
“To Stefan and John – well done on your (and your team’s) performances in October and during the season itself. It’s been a memorable Absa Currie Cup season and we’d also like to congratulate the Sharks on winning their fifth title.”Tweet