The Sharks walked into something of an ambush when they played the Pumas in Witbank on Saturday, but a good thing to come from their 19-7 victory is that coach John Plumtree’s second-stringers have at least had a very tough workout.
However, Plumtree is now concerned that his first-choice players might not be match-fit for their first Super 14 match on February 14 because the Sharks’ remaining warm-up game, on February 4 in Durban, is expected to be against the Bulls’ second-stringers.
“The warm-up game situation this year is not ideal for us,” he said. “The guys are rusty and we would have preferred to have had a tough match before playing the Stormers. It is something the SA franchises need to address because we are not doing ourselves any favours.”
Mike Greenaway writes for The Mercury that down Under, the Australian and New Zealand teams have been getting stuck into each other. On Friday the Force and the Crusaders played in front of a sell-out crowd in Perth.
“We are having to make our training sessions as physical as possible to try to get the guys battle-ready,” said Plumtree.
The Sharks’ opponents in the first round, the Stormers, had a tough match against touring London club Saracens yesterday.
Of the match against the Pumas, Plumtree said that the young combination he had put out had been surprised by the tenacity of the Pumas.
“They really flew into us,” he said. “We expected that might be the case for 50 minutes but they kept going for the full 80. They spoilt a lot and it was a very scrappy game. It was a worthwhile exercise, though. We wanted to look at the greater depth in the squad and there were some revelations as well as confirmation of things we suspected.”Tweet