Criticism has only united Sharks

2010-03-31 00:00

SHARKS head coach John Plumtree says the ongoing criticism from certain sections of the media had moulded his players into a tight unit on their Super 14 tour of the Antipodes.

The Sharks returned from Australasia at the weekend with two victories in the final fortnight ending a run of five successive losses.

Plumtree, addressing the media in Durban yesterday, said that the constant media sniping about his future as the Sharks coach and allegations of unhappiness in the camp had been aimed at “fracturing us”.

He said the squad had spoken about the negative reporting “and we decided to stick together as a squad and work really hard to turn the season around.

“Sometimes you work really hard and you get nothing and we were unlucky not to get a positive result in Australia against the Waratahs and the Brumbies.

“It was a tough tour, but the players never gave up. We talked about sticking together. We knew there was a lot of criticism back home, and that’s understandable when you are losing, and in the end we got some reward.”

Plumtree said the players now face the challenge of kicking on and improving on their season.

“It doesn’t get any easier when you lose a guy like Adi Jacobs (dislocated shoulder), who is one of our main attacking threats.”

Plumtree said that the modern game, with the new-look laws governing the breakdown, was designed to reward attack.

“Looking at the try count you could argue that we’re not the best attacking team, so we have to find other ways to make sure we can win.

“We know we have to work hard and do certain basics well to win.”

Plumtree, not for the first time this season, dismissed allegations, largely in the Afrikaans media, of a split between captain John Smit and the Du Plessis brothers, Bismarck and Jannie.

“I don’t know where these people get this information. It’s always the outsiders talking about us. John and Bismarck and Jannie are good mates. There are always going to be dynamics in a team just as there are in a family when there are squabbles. But that happens in all teams.

“But the reports go on and on about these three guys and it is getting boring. Whenever there is an issue or a loss, the same stuff is said. I’m not sure why.”

He said that he had spoken to the Sharks management about extending his contract before he left on tour.

“I haven’t signed yet, but just because we haven’t got round to it and I have other things, like trying to win rugby matches, on my mind.”

He said he understood why there had been speculation about his job as Sharks coach.

“People will start to talk about replacing me when we are losing because my responsibility is to get results. A coach’s life is like that. You just accept that that’s the way it is.

“But again there are certain influences in the media that start all this because it is certainly not from within.”

Looking ahead to Saturday, Plumtree said the Reds base much of their game around flyhalf Quade Cooper and scrumhalf Will Genia.

“Their halfbacks are outstanding, but I have also been impressed with their pack. They also have some serious speed out wide and they can break you from anywhere. We can’t afford to miss any one-on-one tackles on Saturday.

“We know that every week is like a final for us now, but we did find a fair bit of resolve when the pressure was on overseas.

“The team has a lot of character, there are good senior players as leaders and we promised each other we’d fight to the end,” said Plumtree.

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