John Plumtree has revealed that he sees the final warm up game, against the Kings in PE, as a “dress rehearsal” for the season opener against the Bulls the following week. That’s a pretty clear indication that he will field his strongest side in that game with this weekend’s outing against Boland earmarked for a little more experimentation.
Sharing his thoughts with the Sharks website after the trial, Plum seemed to suggest that he hadn’t seen enough of the Raggies (or “possibles”) backs during Friday night’s trial, lamenting the lack of opportunities for those players. Of the 45 that were involved in the trial (or would have been involved had a power failure not curtailed the exercise) only 24 will be retained for the Boland game, assuming a return to action for the du Plessis brothers, Julian Redelinghuys and Marcell Coetzee.
Most of those names should be reasonably easy to predict, with the bulk of the youngsters falling back to the Vodacom Cup squad, but the trial match will have done much to crystallise Plumtree’s thinking in terms of the makeup of his likely starting 15, if not necessarily changing the makeup of the squad itself.
Running the rule over the positions, it’s probably safe to say that Dale Chadwick has the number 1 jersey properly sewn up, after a dominant scrumming display against admittedly junior opposition. The du Plessis brothers and Ross Skeate will be there too, with Plumtree still unable to separate his three (or make that four) candidates for the number 4 jersey. He specifically called out both Anton Bresler and Jandre Marais as having played well, while Pieter-Steph du Toit was perhaps the find of the trials, even played out of position at flank. Steven Sykes may even find himself on the sidelines for the time being, although much will still change. Jacques Botes gave the coach plenty to think about in that he probably showed up captain Keegan Daniel in terms of his play at open side, while the absence of Jean Deysel, Willem Alberts and Coetzee, coupled with a lacklustre showing from Ryan Kankowski, has left the loose forward combination wide open.
Don’t expect the backline named for that Kings game to differ much from the one that played in the white of the Zambezis on Friday, though – it sounds like Charl McLeod and Pat Lambie combined superbly, with Meyer Bosman and JP Pietersen also showing great promise as a centre pairing. Lwazi Mvovo was singled out for praise and it’s only really in the number 14 and 15 jerseys that some change might come as the coach ponders which two out of Louis Ludik, Odwa Ndungane, Riaan Viljoen and Sbura Sithole should wear those jerseys.
That Sharks, all-in-all, seem to be in a pretty good situation after the trial and in most cases, the selection conundrums are more along the lines of “who to leave out”.Tweet