The Sharks have made it to yet another Currie Cup final, and we can praise the players for their performance on the pitch, but the mastermind behind it all, Mr John Plumtree, only pops into the headlines when the team is doing badly.
The one area where Plumtree has made a change from previous seasons, is in his selections.
In previous seasons, we were happy with wins during the regular season, but still complaining about youngsters sitting on the bench and only getting 90 seconds on the park and not proving anything in that time.
I am not sure whether this change has come about as a result of better youngsters in the setup, or simply as a result of the amount of rugby being played at the moment, and the coach realising that the only way to keep the team from breaking down in totality, is to rotate and rest.
From this new approach, we have seen the rise in a few youngster really showing their worth, stepping up throughout the season and into the play-offs even, showing they have what it takes to be involved in some way or another during the Super Rugby season next year.
Someone like Cobus Reinach has showed great character, not only in match against the Bulls, where he kept Charl McLeod on the bench for the full 80 minutes (whether Charl McLeod has an injury niggle, we cannot be sure of), but also in matches in the build-up to the semi final, where he was rewarded as the Currie Cup Player of the month.
Other bolder-than-before selections include playing U21 prop Alan Dell a few weeks back, when things were not going well in our front row, and even though we called upon Pieter Dixon, Plumtree continued with Monde Hadebe as the starting hooker, until we got Kyle Cooper and Craig Burden back.
Two weeks ago, the Sharks were bolstered by the return of all the Springbok players, and while other teams were forced into selecting all their returning players, the Sharks kept their heads and made only necessary changes. Even coming into the all-important semi-final against the Bulls, the Sharks left players like Beast Mtawarira and Willem Alberts on the bench.
This approach of rewarding hard work amongst the juniors must surely have a positive effect on the overall team dynamic, where players know that hard work will be rewarded with game time. The team aspect of playing as a unit of 30 players instead of playing for yourself, is an attitude that I am sure has resulted in the Sharks finishing top of the table after the regular season.
Looking forward to this weekend’s final, I wish Plumtree and his team the best in their selections, as I can only imagine that he would like to reward every single player with a game in the final, but there are only 22 spots available, and those missing out, will have to wait until next time. So Plum, thanks for another great Currie Cup season, and no matter the result this weekend, you have made us proud and as a team, we are in a better position for Super Rugby Champion status.Tweet