Deysel wins player of the month, Plumtree misses out

2008-09-02 00:00

The 110-kg Sharks flank Jean Deysel, who is built like a brick outhouse, has won the award for the Currie Cup player of the month.

Deysel and Free State Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské have taken the Absa Player and the Coach of the Month awards for August.

Surprisingly, the coaching award did not go to John Plumtree who turned the Sharks around last month, revising their tactical approach and introducing a more direct style. The result was three resounding victories away from home — against Griquas in Kimberley (44-15), Western Province in Cape Town (32-10) and Boland at soggy Wellington (41-7), where the Free Staters only just squeaked home 15-10.

Drotské received three out of five votes from the judges, just pipping the Lions’ Eugene Eloff to the honour, with no mention of Plumtree. Curious.

In contrast, Deysel is making an impression on the opposition and bruising opponents. Astutely signed by the Sharks as a backrow replacement for veteran AJ Venter, Deysel has epitomised the Sharks’ new style, bashing his way over the gainline to create momentum and making strong tackles.

He is now also R10 000 richer following his award yesterday. All eight coaches in the Currie Cup nominate their Player of the Month for August, but they cannot nominate their own players.

“It’s great that the opposition coaches have noticed me and I think that’s the best thing about this award,” Deysel said yesterday.

“John Plumtree and the coaches at the Sharks have backed me,” he said, adding that he was enjoying his rugby with the Sharks.

Looking ahead to the rest of the Currie Cup, Deysel said it was make-or-break, with the Sharks facing the Blue Bulls and Free State over successive Saturdays at King’s Park.

Deysel and Drotské were each rewarded with R10 000 in prize money, whilst they were also presented with exclusive miniature replicas of the Absa Currie Cup trophy.

Deysel missed the start of the Currie Cup because of a hand injury sustained in a pre-season friendly against the Griffons, but a series of powerful displays has seen the 23-year-old make the No 7 shirt his own, much to Sharks coach John Plumtree’s delight.

Kiwi Plumtree, himself a former Sharks flank of some repute, recently said of Deysel — after a Man of the Match display against the Wildeklawer Griquas: “The guy has got Springbok written all over.”

The Coach of the Month is voted for by a five-man panel of top media personalities in South Africa, whilst all eight coaches in the Absa Currie Cup were asked to nominate their Player of the Month for August — as they did last month and like they will be asked to do until the end of this season in October.

They cannot nominate their own players.

Deysel picked up two votes, eventually edging out Nick Kôster (WP), Earl Rose (Lions), Wikus van Heerden and Deon Stegmann (both Blue Bulls) and the Boland Cavaliers’ Dries van Schalkwyk — all of whom earned one nomination each. Interestingly enough, all the players nominated — except Rose — are loose forwards.

For Deysel, and the Sharks, the next few weeks are shaping up as the key ones as the top teams look to secure those crucial home semi-final places.

“The Boks are coming back, at the Sharks and at the other teams too, but that’s why I play this game — to test myself against the best players out there … and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Cheetahs coach Drotské, meanwhile, has guided his team to five successive victories in the series. The Cheetahs, the defending champions, have not lost a match since going down 31-23 to the Blue Bulls in mid-July.

The men from Bloemfontein are currently in third place on the log, just one point behind the second-placed Sharks (33) and two points adrift of the table-topping Vodacom Blue Bulls.

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