With a 50% win record and only 6 games to go in the season, the Sharks are fighting to stay alive in 2012 and they know it. “From here every game is like a final, that pressure is on us” says Plumtree, and with a record like this you can’t be too surprised by the way the fans are reacting. Emotionally, yes, but that is the fanatical nature of a supporter. Who do you blame when a team that started off with so much potential has this kind of record.
Plumtree is not afraid to make changes to his team as we have seen this past weekend and when you ask him whether those changes were based on injury, tactics or form he answers it as bluntly as you could, “Form” he says, as if the one word needs no friends to support its basis. We all know the team has been disappointing and a few players stood out as individuals in those bad performances and Plum in no uncertain way has made it clear that those players won’t maintain their spot in the team if they don’t step it up. “There was a couple of players in the backs that I wasn’t happy with and Ludik deserved an opportunity because he has been playing so well on the wing, he is very committed and he deserved an opportunity at fullback.” He goes on to mention the young and exciting midfielder Paul Jordaan, “We gave him the opportunity and now he can get some real confidence. If I show confidence in him, like I did last week he can go out there and express himself. It was a very similar scenario to Pat Lambie a couple years ago, we kept him back for a while and then he was in and he was away. Hopefully we’ll see that with Paul and his future can kick on now.” Certainly this will be pleasing for many to hear, as the call has been made to give the exciting youngsters an opportunity and it seems like it may also be more than just a one time thing, “We know what talent he is” says Plumtree of Jordaan.
It seems having a full squad and needing to make a few decisions regarding selection has not made the coach feel under pressure, there’s no talk of selection headaches for Plumtree and as far as he is concerned this creates the type of competitiveness that is healthy within a team and it seems he feels that this will prompt players to step up to a higher level.
The question is, does this willingness to make cuts and changes indicate that the coach knows what he is doing and where he is going or does it show a glint of desperation from a coach that is unsure of his next move and how to turn a mediocre season into a successful one? It is not that anyone can directly disagree with his statement of players out of form or the quality of the players that has been rewarded. It is also true that solid defense is one of the important aspects of success this year, as the coach duly pointed out, “It is in fact the two best defensive teams that lies at the top of the table this year, not the most attacking teams. So we just want to put a game plan into place, if that means we kick more, then that’s what we’ll attempt to execute.”, but does this mean the coach has made some kind of revelation or is he simply catching on to the same teams he is chasing on the log? Or is this over critical?
We demand a type of game from the Sharks, we want them to be exciting and score tries and we celebrate every high flying pocket rocket selected over the solid, reliable and together player. We stop just short of writing poems about the speedsters and the Sonny-Bill like offloads, we want the players who has that spark and can ignite a beautiful attacking move from anywhere, but when that same players rakes up the errors, misses tackles and shy away from the grunt work that would ensure the quick and accurate play we have sorely missed this season, we blame the coach? Then the coach includes more spark, rewards form and employ a game plan outwitting a form 2012 team and we still can’t look past what’s wrong with everything in the team, it seems that we would not have made the best coaches after all and that the best thing for the team would be to simply eliminate the noise and focus on what is ahead.
We don’t need to be like a chorus behind every decision made with the Sharks and certainly not the results these decisions have produced this year, but at some point we have to own up and admit that every step that has been taken this year was one we asked for at some point. We asked for a more exciting midfield that can break the line and that step was taken. We asked for the exclusion of players that has been marked as hasbeens and the appointment of a new exciting captain that will show the future of the Sharks and the step was taken. We asked for more young players being given opportunities and that step was taken two-three fold this year. We ask for these things, exclaiming that if these steps will be taken and these changes will be affected then we will be pleased, then we will support the change and give it an opportunity to form into something special for the Sharks.
But then the fact still remains, even after improvements or what we believed to be improvements has been made to the team – Tim Whitehead has certainly brought some excitement to our midfield and the move of JP Pietersen, although it wasn’t all the fireworks we expected it must be said was a successful one. Marcell Coetzee has been one of the best loose forwards of the competition and Dale Chadwick, Anton Bresler, Jandre Marais, Wien Herbst, Pieter Steph Du Toit and now Paul Jordaan are all finding their way to the senior squad. All these things should be good things and should improve the team and yet the Sharks aren’t looking any better than they did last year at this time, or two years or three years ago at this time. So if on face value the team has improved, why haven’t the results?Tweet