Plumtree’s doing the right thing

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 4 Aug 2011 at 07:30
Tagged with : , , , , ,

There’s a quote that I really like in one of the Harry Potter books about making the choice between doing what’s right and what’s easy. For Sharks coach John Plumtree, packing his team for Friday night’s clash against Griquas with returning Boks would certainly have presented an easy solution to a potentially thorny away fixture.

Would doing so have been right, though? In order to answer the question, we need to add some context, though, because for something to be the right course of action, we need to know exactly what goal we are trying to achieve. In this aspect, I feel that Plumtree’s approach speaks volumes. We have, after all, laid a fair amount of accusations of short-sightedness and short-termism at the feet of the Sharks coach in the recent past. Why, even in this year’s Super Rugby competition, Plumtree seemed to be operating under a “win at all costs or you have no future” set of orders, resulting in very little experimentation either in game-plan or team selection. The results were, to be fair, disappointing, with far too few players saddled with far too heavy a workload and many of them declining quite rapidly over the course of the season in terms of what they were able to produce.

What, then, has changed this Currie Cup, to make Plumtree prepared to back Mark Richards, Sbura Sithole, Ross Cronje, Marcell Coetzee and Dale Chadwick, when he has seasoned campaigners like Odwa Ndungane, Lwazi Mvovo, Charl McLeod, Ryan Kankowski and Eugene van Staden to call on? As with most situations, one can find either a romantic, or a pragmatic explanation and while it’s always fun to dwell on the former, it’s the latter that probably carries most weight.

Romantically, then, Plumtree is right to show faith in the young players who have done him proud over the first three rounds. Most of these guys have been waiting on the sidelines for a few years now and are grasping their opportunity to step up in no uncertain terms. There’s an energy and a winning vibe that permeates the young team, with the players, both young and old, coming together as a team and growing in stature with each week. In short, what Plumtree is doing with these players – within the context of this phase of the Currie Cup competition – is working and as such, it makes very little sense to change the approach. Should Plumtree decide to drop swathes of his young stars the moment the Boks roll back into town, the morale that he’s working so hard to build would suffer an undoubted – and possibly terminal – setback, one from which he may have less than a week to recover, given that the likes of Lambie, Mvovo, Jacobs and Kankowski may well be whisked straight back into the Bok frame when the next squad is announced on Friday.

Avoiding making sweeping changes on a weekly basis, apart from being romantic, is also quite sensible, but you’ll feel that the ever-pragmatic Plumtree has yet another goal that he’s concentrating on here, one which has no doubt required a fair bit of haggling in the “corridors of power” in order to be condoned. Despite the fact that things are, currently, going swimmingly, I reckon Plumtree has been given dispensation (like Alister Coetzee and Pine Pienaar too) to use the Currie Cup to “battle harden” players for Super Rugby duty next year. While the current side has, somewhat fortuitously, the look of a champion outfit after just three rounds, my feeling is that Plumtree’s main aim this season is to give his fringe players enough development time over the next few months to know for a fact which are going to be part of his (hopefully larger) Super Rugby squad in 2012. He knows that a few losses along the way are inevitable, but that those losses are all part of the bigger picture and must contribute, in some way, to the “greater good”, if you’ll pardon another obvious Harry Potter reference.

Whatever the real motivation, though, the romantic in me continues to feel that the selection for the Griquas match is a “good thing” simply because it’s fair on the players who have stuck their hands up over the last few weeks. Kimberley has been the graveyard of many ambitions in Sharks colours over the years, though, so it’s going to be interesting to see just how patient the fans are prepared to be if and when the Sharks youngsters lose a game that a more experienced outfit might not have. Plumtree, it seems, has the endorsement of the people who matter when it comes to the approach he’s taking, though and it behoves the Sharks oft-fickle support base to get behind him and the team – whatever the result – in the interests of improving the overall health of Sharks rugby.

I see a future, in short, where we are no longer forced to bring in expensive imports at the beginning of each campaign, because we have a horde of willing and able homegrown talents champing at the bit to put on the jersey they love and step into the breech. A romantic notion that may well be, but also a far cheaper one for the boys signing the cheques – and one that may just bring in that elusive Super Rugby trophy sooner than we think.


  • I actually heard violins playing while reading this article. πŸ˜†

  • Comment 1, posted at 04.08.11 07:42:41 by waje Reply
  • Agree Rob – let’s recognise Plumtree’s bravery in backing the kids and not call for their heads if they hit a few hurdles.

  • Comment 2, posted at 04.08.11 07:43:34 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 2) : πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 3, posted at 04.08.11 07:58:03 by Charlie Reply

  • Rob you are so right !!! GO SHARKS !!! :mrgreen: πŸ˜† :mrgreen:

  • Comment 4, posted at 04.08.11 07:58:38 by Charlie Reply

  • does this mean you’re expecting a loss against Griquas? 😈

  • Comment 5, posted at 04.08.11 08:25:12 by Greg Reply

  • Plum has done the right thing, but can afford to with a 100% record to date. Should this team have had a more taxing draw, and dropped a game or two, would he have been so bold?
    Let’s consider the Bulls and Cheetahs – both have lost two games and both have included most of their returnees. Obviously pressure to get results changes the thinking. Fortunately this predicament is not burdening Plum.
    Yes, agree this is way to go but do so worry about the β€œSharks oft-fickle support base” so eloquently commented upon in the article.

  • Comment 6, posted at 04.08.11 08:34:01 by senior Reply

  • Very well written and even our under 21 talented players will be introduced next season thereby creating a continuos roll for development and health of the sharks…same method that nz do. Plum for bok coach πŸ™‚

  • Comment 7, posted at 04.08.11 08:42:57 by AlterEgo Reply

  • Great stuff Plum!!

  • Comment 8, posted at 04.08.11 08:50:25 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • @Greg (Comment 5) : more experienced sharks team than this have lost in kimberley.

  • Comment 9, posted at 04.08.11 08:55:03 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Hallelujah! The lights have gone on in the corridors of power, and not just in the 5th dimension, but here at home too!

  • Comment 10, posted at 04.08.11 09:41:38 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • I don’t know about you guys but I’m really enjoying the Currie Cup with all the youngsters in it. Its all a bit more freeflowing and less structured, makes for entertaining stuff.

    Even in the draw against Griquas, the WP backs were trying some outlandish moves and some great handling was on display.

  • Comment 11, posted at 04.08.11 09:42:51 by Clayton(PJLD) Reply
  • @Clayton(PJLD) (Comment 11) : If I had my way, there’d be a ban on the Boks returning. Loving seeing the fearlessness of youth in action! Speaking of handling and retention, are you still hanging onto that toenail? πŸ˜†

  • Comment 12, posted at 04.08.11 09:50:47 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • @Culling Song (Comment 12) : Just about boet, theres something to be said about seeing blood pour from under your big toenail.

  • Comment 13, posted at 04.08.11 09:56:15 by Clayton(PJLD) Reply
  • @Clayton(PJLD) (Comment 13) : And the thing to be said is generally along the lines of: “@&Β£#%^*$€Β₯%#β€’Β£&@!!!!!!”

  • Comment 14, posted at 04.08.11 10:01:31 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • @Clayton(PJLD) (Comment 11) : Fully.

    @Clayton(PJLD) (Comment 13) : ❓ From running?

  • Comment 15, posted at 04.08.11 10:14:26 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @Culling Song (Comment 14) : πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

    @Ice (Comment 15) : Nah, thats happened to Crystal, ran her toenails off doing her first 21kay. Mine was more manly, moving toolboxes and stuff.

  • Comment 16, posted at 04.08.11 10:15:42 by Clayton(PJLD) Reply
  • @Clayton(PJLD) (Comment 16) : Me. netball and toenails does not go together either…

    Toolboxes – AHHHHHHHH – I think Culling song is spot on with comment 14 then!

  • Comment 17, posted at 04.08.11 10:20:30 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • Flyhalves will always be bought,It is a rare talent to have good attacking ones like Fred and Pat.

  • Comment 18, posted at 04.08.11 10:31:13 by Honey Badger Reply

    Honey Badger
  • @Clayton(PJLD) (Comment 11) : Agreed

  • Comment 19, posted at 04.08.11 11:43:06 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Whilst it is noble that Plum is giving his young guns a run and a chance to prove themselves for Superugby, the fact that it is even possible, must be an indication that the pressure is off Plum…

    which in itself then indicates that, even in the corridors of the Sharks Rugby Union, the status and importance of the Currie Cup has already been down-graded to little more than a training competition (ie. a feeder for the more improtant Superugby Competition).

  • Comment 20, posted at 04.08.11 13:47:03 by CS Reply

  • I have enjoyed this season of CC so far, and the CC will still be so much better than the Vodacom Cup because youngsters get to play with more experienced campaigners.

  • Comment 21, posted at 04.08.11 15:23:23 by KingRiaan Reply

  • @KingRiaan (Comment 21) : And in front of decent crowds! sadly Vodacom Cup and U19 & U21 Currie Cup tend to be watched by smaller crowds than you will see at a decent schoolboy match.

  • Comment 22, posted at 04.08.11 21:51:24 by steve Reply

  • @steve (Comment 22) : That’s sad but very true.

  • Comment 23, posted at 04.08.11 21:55:48 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • I agree we need to blood these youngsters, but feel Plum needs to also give some of the young centers a chance. So give Stef a little holiday and try a few new combinations maybe we unearth a gem. The Crusadres gave young Marshall a run at fullback and was a revelation to those of us that had never seen nor heard of him. So PLEASE please before the next round of Super rugby lets have found a speedier, fresher centre pairing. We have tried Bosman and Stef and have found them wanting, so lets try something else during the Curry Cup. Just a thought.

  • Comment 24, posted at 04.08.11 22:48:01 by Dynamite Reply

  • @Dynamite (Comment 24) : I reckon the Leopards game in two weeks time is the right one to give Williams and Lindeque a go with the seniors

  • Comment 25, posted at 04.08.11 23:11:27 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Our A-team pack of forwards have the beating of most teams on any given day(perhaps against a few teams in the scrums,where it could get tricky).problem is :what to do when we play that ball to the backline?hopefully rassie is working on a gameplan that makes our backs also shine because there is undoubted skill there.personaaly,I’m not sure any longer of a bok centre combo of j fourie and j div..j div was def shown up by sbw in 2 games this year.def he didn’t stand up to the crusaders ball carriers.I’d like to see a return to the ’07 combo of butch,f steyn and j fourie.maybe add f hougaard at 9 (but like beet mentioned,a tight kick high and accurate for chasers to compete and either win ball or tackle and drive ball carrier backwards andruck the ball back,could also work.then you’d have to look at fdp again,but he hasn’t been anywhere near his best for awhile imho).
    A lot will also depend on if heinrich brussow can regain his form of ’09.
    The big q for me still is what our backs are going to do with good ball?we will need to score tries and not just settle for penalties when the chances are there to get the 5 pointers.

  • Comment 26, posted at 04.08.11 23:12:56 by bergshark Reply

  • @robdylan:eish rob,could you perhaps cut and paste this comment26 to the relevant arti..please..

  • Comment 27, posted at 04.08.11 23:15:42 by bergshark Reply

  • Relevant arti being springbok gameplan..please πŸ™‚

  • Comment 28, posted at 04.08.11 23:16:46 by bergshark Reply

  • Would also like to see lindeque/williams get achance,and perhaps jordaan to to come on for williams later in game..or would that be pushing it a bit?perhaps.

  • Comment 29, posted at 04.08.11 23:18:18 by bergshark Reply

  • In regards to later games in cc this season(obviously not this friday night in kimberley).team has been already announced.

  • Comment 30, posted at 04.08.11 23:36:06 by bergshark Reply

  • In regards to later games in cc this season(obviously not this friday night in kimberley).team has already been announced.

  • Comment 31, posted at 04.08.11 23:36:24 by bergshark Reply

  • Gouws prinsloo to get a run at fb sometime during this cc season would also be nice(not 5 min here and couple min there,but a start or two- what about at loftus?that could test the player’s mettle).

  • Comment 32, posted at 04.08.11 23:38:12 by bergshark Reply

  • I feel heimar williams will have to gain some muscle for sr (and also cc).

  • Comment 33, posted at 04.08.11 23:40:16 by bergshark Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 25) : I hope you are right. I remember all those years ago when Dick brought all those youngsters through. The Brad’s etc. He used a bit of team rotation, yes they lost a few games, but it did uncover youthful exuberance, which I feel SA rugby is lacking. Also NZ is developing some really good young openside flankers eg. Luke Braide (younger brother to Daniel Braide), Matt Todd, Sam Laine etc. All now have Super rugby experience, whilst thinking of Saffa sides it only seems like same old same old. The Brussouws (sp) are few and far between. I just feel SA teams want to protect players who are deemed to young or too small??

  • Comment 34, posted at 05.08.11 04:15:07 by Dynamite Reply

  • Good morning FRIDAY!!!!!! Enjoy the weekend people πŸ™‚ :mrgreen:

  • Comment 35, posted at 05.08.11 07:01:08 by Franshark Reply

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