Sharks coach John Plumtree is concerned that his team are in danger of running out of steam in Saturday’s round-four match against the Blues in Auckland.
Mike Greenaway writes in The Mercury that the focus this week at the team’s base at Lake Taupo is very much on recovery and rejuvenation, as Plumtree attempts to get some fizz into tired bodies.
“The challenge this week is to overcome a very physically draining fortnight, and to front up against a Blues team that we know thrives on the physical stuff,” the coach said.
And ordinarily that would not be a problem for the Sharks, but their past two games have taken a lot out of them.
Many of the players were close to collapse from heat exhaustion after a Lions game that on medical grounds should probably not have gone ahead.
Then came a 24-hour trip to New Zealand, and at the weekend a draining match against the Chiefs, who forced the Sharks to do little else but tackle for the last quarter of the match. The feeling from the Sharks camp is that this is a tough week for the players, but that they should be in better shape next week when they head for Australia.
The good news is that the Sharks could not be in a better place to recuperate.
The Wairakei Resort, where they are staying, is in the soothing surrounds of a championship golf course.
There are massive spa baths, enough to fit a rugby team in one go, there are trout-stocked rivers, tennis courts and plenty of peace and quiet, and let’s not forget – a rugby field on which to train away from prying eyes. “It is ideal,” said Plumtree. “Very relaxing, and it is nice to be out of the city.
“It is great to train in cool temperatures. The heat of Durban at this time of year is very taxing to train in. And playing a match in the humidity is 10 times tougher than jet lag.”
Speaking of which, the Blues will have a dose of it this week, having just returned from Cape Town.
“There is no taking them lightly, despite the travel factor. They are a really good side, and they showed that against the Stormers,” Plumtree said.
“We know what kind of effort it takes to win at Newlands, so for the Blues to win there shows the quality in their side. To come back after the hiding they got from the Bulls and beat the Stormers seven days later was outstanding from their whole squad.”Tweet