Sharks coach John Plumtree hopes a selection shake-up will help turn his talented team’s season around, following three successive defeats in the opening weeks.
Speaking to rugby365.com, ahead of his team’s Round Four encounter with the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday, Plumtree revealed that “some strong words” were spoken after his team’s 6-35 capitulation against the Crusaders last Saturday.
Although he conceded that they were beaten by a “much better team”, he felt that his team had “dropped their heads” in the final 10 minutes and allowed the score to balloon.
Now he hopes that by making some selection changes it will ensure the Sharks get their first win against a team that has just returned from a bruising road trip to South Africa – where the ‘Tahs were beaten by both the Bulls and Stormers.
Plumtree is determined that his charges put behind them a horror start to the season – narrow losses to the Chiefs and Cheetahs, before the heavy defeat against the Crusaders – and get that crucial first win under the belt.
Saying that his team played most of their rugby in the wrong area of the field, he said the Sharks just weren’t good enough on the day.
“They [the Crusaders] put us under pressure at set the pieces, particularly at the scrum,” Plumtree told rugby365.com.
The Sharks mentor promised his team’s long-suffering fans – desperate to see the side end their Super Rugby cup drought – that they will sort the problems out.
“We’ll work pretty hard on those areas,” he said of the set pieces, adding: “There has obviously been some tough talking.
“We know what are our strengths and weaknesses as a team.
“We just have to work really hard on our strengths and give ourselves the best chance to win by focussing on those strengths and that is something we have talked about.”
He said that they won’t be concerned about what the opposition does or might do, but rather focus on their own game.
“We are just going to concentrate on what we can bring to the party,” Plumtree said.
“There will be some changes in selection and hopefully those players we will pick on the day will be good enough to do the job,” he added, declining to reveal which players are under fire.
He also dismissed a lack of fitness for his team’s poor start, especially with a view to the slump in the final 20 minutes.
“We worked pretty hard in the pre-season and even though some guys came back later, I wouldn’t use fitness as an excuse,” the coach said.
“The boys worked pretty hard and they are professionals.
“The Sharks have always been a physical side and under me they have always been very fit.
“[I feel] we dropped off against the Crusaders because our heads dropped when we realised we are probably going to lose the football match.
“When you are losing [games] it is not very nice when you realise you are going to lose another one.
“We talked about that and we want to fight for 80 minutes, no matter what the score is – we must produce an 80-minute performance to give us the best chance to win the game.”
Plumtree said his team has used similar systems this year to what they have used in the past and it has never been a problem.
“The players are working really hard at the moment and we don’t think it is a fitness thing, that’s for sure,” Plumtree added.
Courtesy of Rugby 365 editor Jan De KoningTweet