‘Challenge for Sharks to keep up intensity’

2011-07-19 00:00

THE young Sharks face a bruising challenge and a test of their commitment in Nelspruit on Friday night, coach John Plumtree said yesterday.

The Sharks coach, looking ahead to the Currie Cup game against the Pumas, said the challenge facing his young players is to maintain the intensity they showed in downing the Bulls 35-16 at King’s Park at the weekend.

He said, “The Pumas are always a handful at the start of the season as they showed against the Lions at Ellis Park on Friday night [the Lions won narrowly 31-27].

“They are enthusiastic and they will be at full strength in front of their home supporters.”

He predicted it will be a tough outing for the Sharks.

“We have a short week of preparation for the Friday game and face a long coach trip to Nelspruit, so the intention will have to be there if we are to beat the Pumas.”

He said his young players were hungry and keen to impress against the Bulls, but emphasised that the challenge for them now is to play like professionals and keep performing at the same level week in and out.

He again praised the effort of his young props against the Bulls.

“Wiehahn Herbst is really progressing and Dale Chadwick [a late replacement for Eugene van Straden] came in and performed.

“It’s great having props with that type of ability and it all adds to our depth, even for next year’s Super Rugby tournament.

“The forwards got excited with the success they were having against the Bulls and with that came confidence and belief.”

He is also delighted with the performance of captain and number eight Keegan Daniel, who was named man of the match.

Plumtree said, “He’s turned into a consistent performer over the last 15 months.

“He also encourages the younger players and enjoys the role.”

The Sharks’ new halfback pairing of Ross Cronje and Frederic Michalak have also settled in quickly, Plumtree said.

“I thought Fred played really well and he was a genuine threat in most parts of the field with his touches and his awareness.

“Ross Cronje was under pressure to perform, and if he can play like that consistently he will add depth in the position.

“We also have Conrad Hoffman coming back, and possibly Charl McLeod from the Boks when the national squad is cut in a few weeks.”

Plumtree said lock Anton Bresler took a hard knock before half-time on Saturday, but he hopes he and Van Staden will be ready for the Nelspruit trip.

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