Currie Cup: Lions will be a real handful, says Plumtree

2012-08-15 00:00

THE Lions, crowded with Super Rugby players and close to full strength, will be a “real handful” for the Sharks in Saturday night’s Currie Cup match at King’s Park, John Plumtree said yesterday.

The Sharks coach, in his weekly media briefing, said that the Lions were “looking in really good shape” following their weekend win over Free State.

“They have lost very few players [since Super Rugby] and even have some returning from injury.

“They have a forward pack that is battle-hardened, with both Currie Cup and Super Rugby experience, and they will be very confident.

“Their backs — Waylon Murray and Lionel Mapoe — have also been around for a while and then Butch James is a key player for them, probably the most experienced flyhalf in the country.

“They will be a real handful. Whatever we do against them, either with the ball or without, will need to be very accurate.”

Plumtree said that the only Sharks’ injury concern was centre Paul Jordaan, who has had ongoing hamstring problems in recent months and limped from the field at the weekend after scoring a superb try against Western Province.

“He hasn’t trained this week yet, but we’re hoping he will be right for tomorrow’s training.”

The Sharks coach said Charl McLeod, Anton Bresler and Louis Ludik — all rested for the Newlands game — would be available for the Lions game.

“After last week’s thin preparation, we are back into the swing of things. The Western Province game was just a start for us. We were just happy to get the points even though there weren’t a lot of positives to take out of the game.

“Perhaps the real plus was the tenacity shown when we hung on to win. That showed a lot of character, but we’re looking for a 40-50% improvement in all areas for the Lions game.”

Plumtree said he was delighted with the contribution made by new scrumhalf Cobus Reinach.

“He was excellent. He had the ball in hand a lot and was about 94% accurate in his stats, so he had a pretty good all-round game. I’m very impressed. He’s been around for a while now, we’ve been watching him and we knew he’d get an opportunity in the Currie Cup. He has started beautifully so I’m pleased for him.”

He was equally pleased with flyhalf Riaan Viljoen. “It wasn’t much of a game for backplay, because of the rain and because we didn’t really have a lot of momentum. It wasn’t a game you could judge him from an attacking perspective.

“But defensively he did well and his kicking game was excellent. His communication was good and he varied his kicking game, which was crucial in the second half. It was a encouraging start for him.”

The match against the Lions kicks off at 7.10 pm on Saturday.

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