“We are training to get five points and are preparing as if we will be boarding a plane to New Zealand on Sunday.” That was the word from Sharks coach John Plumtree to the media ahead of Saturday’s Super14 clash against the Bulls in Durban.
He admits, however, that this approach can pose problems in itself.
“Things may change radically before kick-off and then the team leaders will simply have to get involved and ensure that the disappointment of missing out is put behind us very quickly,” said Plumtree.
“We will emerge from the dressing room eager to restore some pride in our campaign.”
Louis De Villiers writes for Sport 24 that most of the Sharks’ walking wounded should recover in time to play against the log leaders, but there is serious concern over centre Brad Barritt. He sustained a dangerous and unpunished tackle by Waratahs replacement scrumhalf Brett Sheehan and will be tested on Thursday.
Adrian Jacobs, who trained on Monday but experienced discomfort in his shoulder on Tuesday, should be ready. The same applies to JP Pietersen, who injured a buttock muscle.
Ruan Pienaar has an infection in his knee, but his antibiotics will kick in well before Saturday.
He will be monitored during the week, but the man set to replace him, Riaan Swanepoel, who has had problems with his ankle, is recovering well.
Plumtree agrees that the Bulls game is everything but your average Super14 match.
“There is the derby element, which always spurs the players on. Springboks play against Springboks,” he said.
He did not want to comment on Springbok coach Peter de Villiers’s statement that likened the match to a trial.
“I would like to think of it as a Super14 game between two sides still capable of winning the tournament. It probably helps him as much as a trial game would,” said Plumtree.
Plumtree admits the need for a bonus point poses a difficult challenge.
“We struggled for bonus points this year and are feeling that now. Look at the Chiefs, for example. They have something like nine bonus points and that is the equivalent of two victories,” he said.Tweet