Sharks coach John Plumtree has told Beeld’s Christo Buchner that while he was impressed with his team’s performance over-all on Saturday, the inability to control many of their own lineout throws is a massive concern ahead of the final this weekend.
While Western Province, mercifully, will be without lineout kingpin Andries Bekker this weekend, they will nevertheless have the almost-as-dangerous Eben Etzebeth towering at the front of the set piece to disrupt this key source of possession and while the Sharks have generally looked quite safe when the ball is thrown to Anton Bresler in the middle, it’s at the front particularly that things have tended to go wrong.
An unexpected semi-final loss by the Sharks under 21 side, though, has opened an interesting door for Plumtree, with there now being nothing stopping him including young Pieter-Steph du Toit in his match 22 for the domestic show-piece on Saturday. Du Toit has been in good form for the juniors since returning from ankle surgery and is considered more of an out-and-out lineout specialist than any of the senior locks, while still able to mix it up in the physical stakes.
“Our lineout was was far from good – and that is one of his [do Toit's] strong points,” Plumtree told Buchner. “That’s one aspect of our game that we’re definitely going to have to improve ahead of the final. Pieter-Steph is going to play a big role for us in Super Rugby next year anyway, so we may just as well involve him in the final.”
Including du Toit, perhaps as a bench option, could create some interesting problems for Plumtree, particularly if he plans to start with Steven Sykes in what would be the latter’s final game for the Sharks before joining up with the Kings next season. Jandre Marais has been a stand out player for the Sharks all season and while he is no less physical than du Toit, his somewhat more mature body seems less prone to breakdown than the 20-year-old’s. With Beast Mtawarira expected to start, though, it’s quite likely that the Sharks may opt to drop a prop from the squad in order to include du Toit as an additional utility forward.Tweet