This weekend had the spotlight on two coaches under pressure, one fired and one didn’t.
This year John Plumtree has been under fire for some odd selection decisions and poor results. Pieter de Villiers is in the spotlight with the Rugby World Cup a little over a year away and the defence of the title in his hands. In 8 days the two coaches took different approaches, leaving one smiling today and the other working out what stupid excuse he can think of now. Funnily enough both coaches had exactly the same positional issues the week before and only Plumtree had the presence of mind to make changes.
Scrumhalf, wing and fullback hampered both the Sharks and the Springboks in their opening matches. At scrumhalf Januarie is past his prime and deserves his spot as bench warmer in a Currie Cup team, Rory Kockett is a good rugby player but a shocking scrumhalf. Both players have the inability to give their flyhalves quick quality ball. Louis Ludik and Jean de Villiers weren’t good enough at wing as both players were playing out of position, in the Boks case their kick and chase game required wings with speed, that Jean or Habana don’t possess. At fullback Pat Lambie and Zane Kirchner were shown wanting, although Pat Lambie has far more skill than Zane Kirchner, Pat wants to be in the backline and often finds himself out of position. Zane is only good when Fourie du Preez is there holding his hand, otherwise his game is as bad as his hairstyle.
One week later the two coaches took different routes and were rewarded accordingly. Pieter de Villiers stuck to his guns saying his game plan was the way to go and his backline was the best to beat the All Blacks. Pieter de Villiers is now chewing on the carrot his team was given by the All Blacks. John Plumtree gave Rory Kockett a chance to impress and after letting the team down again, John relegated Rory to the bench. He also realised Pat wanted to be in the backline so he replaced another weak link (Riaan Swanepoel) with Pat Lambie and got the just rewards. This left fullback empty, so John put Ludik in his rightful position and got a proper wing in and it paid off. The backline played its best rugby of the year and the confidence in the backline made Stefan hold onto the ball more. Sharks possession was at its best and although they never converted most that possession, they made sure the Bulls couldn’t score as they were starved of ball.
So hats off to John for finally the taking time to fix his backline and Pieter de Villiers should chew on his hat to shut his mouth long enough to give his brain a chance to think.Tweet