While it’s pretty easy to see that, in taking a dig at Andy Goode’s form over the last few weeks, John Plumtree’s real target was none other than Rudolf Straeuli, the coach has painted himself into a real corner when it comes to team selection for Saturday’s clash against the Stormers.
For those who missed it, Plumtree allegedly declared himself most dissatisfied with the play that has been dished up by the English pivot since joining the Sharks on their Antipodean tour, during the post-match press conference at Loftus on Saturday night. The coach further went on to say that the Sharks need to do better when it comes to procurement and since Commercial Director Straeuli is solely responsible for that aspect, the comment is the clearest indication we’ve yet had that the two don’t get along. Personality clashes aside (and there are always plenty of those where Straeuli is concerned), it couldn’t be clearer that the two simply don’t see eye to eye when it comes to their respective rugby philosophies either, resulting in the Sharks quite simply not having a squad capable of dishing up the sort of rugby that the coach insists on playing.
I’m taking a huge leap of faith here, in assuming that Plumtree and his assistants actually do have a plan, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Whatever the truth, the Sharks, for the umpteenth time this campaign, find themselves quite literally up the creek without a flyhalf. The reasons are myriad, starting with the injuries to Juan Hernandez and Guy Cronje, moving on through the bizarre on-again, off-again retirement of Steve Meyer, the woes of Monty Dumond and the ultimatums of Ruan Pienaar. Fact is, once again, there is only really one flyhalf in the squad – Goode – and Plumtree simply cannot pick him against the Stormers, lest he be guilty of the basest hypocrisy ever.
While Dumond is still very much on the scene, the fact is that Plumtree has simply never rated him and has done the player a huge disservice by preventing him moving on to the Cheetahs, where he had a coaching team prepared to back him and see what he could deliver. Plumtree cannot now pick Dumond either, since he has made his lack of faith in that player palpably clear and the only option left to the coach, given that there is now really nothing to lose, is to pick Patrick Lambie at flyhalf and see what happens.
It is only one of a number of changes that simply have to be made to the Sharks team now, in the interests of putting this disaster of a Super 14 campaign behind them and starting to move on. Stefan Terblanche cannot continue at outside centre and while it is tempting to let him go back to fullback when Lambie moves in, that in itself would be a stopgap and serve no purpose whatsoever. The Sharks have invested a huge amount of time (and lawyers’ fees) in getting Louis Ludik to Durban and it makes sense to bring him straight into the number 15 jersey.
Whatever other changes happen in the backline, though, moving Lambie into the flyhalf jersey is the one that simply has to be made – and made now.Tweet