I don’t know what it is about it. Why is it that when we get to finals, teams don’t want to be the team most likely to win? Not really at any other time in the year, but as soon as the cup is at stake, no one wants to admit or accept that the odds are in their favour. This year, it seems Allister Coetzee and his team have claimed the “Underdog” tag with Plumtree now taking the firm ‘it really doesn’t matter’ stance.
“I think it’s a way to deflect pressure off his team.” says Plumtree “But they’ll have their own expectations and they’ll come here to win, so we’re not buying into all of that.”
He then does buy into it a little by building up the other team: “It’s a final and they were good enough to get here, so we respect them and we’ll go full out at them and they’ll be doing the same to us.”
But it doesn’t really matter what you say, because this year, it really does seem that most things are in advantage of the home team, just another thing that will favour the Sharks – home advantage. Then there is the home record and the record against WP in the last 5 games, the wet weather must count in the Sharks’ favour and finally injuries, with WP now struggling for depth in certain positions and the Sharks sitting with too much depth in some of theirs.
It’s not that WP isn’t a good team. No, as captain and coach made abundantly clear, this Western Province team is a dangerous team: “They have a very big forward pack and they have x-factor all over the park. Their line out functions really well and will put a lot of pressure on us where they’ll look to use their driving mall.” Plumtree warned about this weekend’s opposition.
Keegan Daniel supported his coach by pointing at the final movement of the Western Province semi final: “This weekend they were under pressure, they kicked for the corner and scored from that driving maul from 20m out. They have definitely grown a lot over the last couple of months as a unit.”
That’s another thing that Plumtree sees as a big equalizer: “If you look at that win, they were down and out with a minute to go and they got an opportunity and nailed it. That would have given them a lot of confidence coming here. That shows the character that they have in their team and that builds confidence.”
Louis Ludik points to the occasion as something that has always evened the field in the past “It’s Currie Cup. Its 120 years of history. It’s a massive challenge (to take on a team like WP). They have huge players in the team and the x-factor of players like Gio Aplon and Bryan Habana. They’re a good team and it will be a tough game. It’s a final. It’s anyone’s game.” says the in-form fullback.
John Plumtree has the final say on the point: “I know there’s a lot of talk out there about us being the favourites and predictions being made, but we know this is going to be a real final, a tough weekend and a real arm wrestle. It certainly won’t be any easier than it has been in the past.”
And at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. It’s a final and as Plumtree and the Sharks know from experience (historically having lost more Currie Cup finals than they have won), no matter the odds, or worthiness, or pressure, when it’s a Currie Cup final, you’re going to have to be at your absolute best to walk away with that coveted trophy.Tweet