Frustrated Plumtree waves the big stick

2013-04-18 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree has run out of patience and Springbok Ryan Kankowski has been dropped from the team for Saturday’s Super Rugby derby against the Cheetahs and will miss the tour of New Zealand and Australia.

The Sharks top the South African conference, but Plumtree, in spite of injury to a dozen players, has axed Kankowski and will also replace fullback Frans Steyn for the game against the Cheetahs.

Springbok wing JP Pietersen, his most lethal attacking player, has been ruled out of Saturday’s game with an ankle injury.

The Sharks, disrupted by the two-day Springbok training camp, which claimed 10 of their players, had their first practice of the week last night and Plumtree said he was having problems “getting a team together” for the weekend.

“We’re not certain where JP [Pietersen] is in terms of his injury, but he won’t play this weekend.

“He is one of our best players and this is a massive loss.”

Plumtree has taken the brave but unusual step of omitting number eight Kankowski from the squad particularly in the light of the many injuries at loose forward (to Willem Alberts, Jean Deysel and Jacques Botes).

“Ryan won’t be travelling on tour. He’s not in good form.

“We are putting a plan in place for him going forward but he’s still feeling the effects of the Japanese season.

“Mentally he’s stale, so it’s frustrating for him because he’s trying his best. It’s just not working … it’s alarming for me as well because he’s one of our better players.

“At at the end of the day we have standards and there are consequences for not reaching those standards.”

Plumtree said he also remained concerned at Frans Steyn’s continued lack of form. “Frans won’t be playing at fullback this weekend.

“I’ll consider him off the bench or in the midfield.

“When he came back from an injury at the start of the season he wasn’t in great condition. He’s battling … to get back to his best.

“We’ve had long talks, and I’m going to be patient with him, but he’s got to be patient as well.

“We’ll get there, but it’s just going to take some time. He’s been out of South Africa for a while, so he’s just got to rediscover his form and the conditioning necessary for Super Rugby.”

Plumtree said preparations for the Cheetahs game would be “short and sharp”.

“Missing out on yesterday’s training [because of the Bok camp] has meant we’ve had to catch up.

“Injuries are really doing their best to try and derail our bid to win the trophy.

“It’s become difficult and stressful for everyone here, the coaches, players and medical team. We’ve just got to dig in, but it hasn’t been easy getting a team together for this weekend and also getting a squad ready to tour [on Sunday].”

While the Sharks are in mini-crisis in Durban, the Cheetahs are relaxed and confident in Bloemfontein where coach Naka Drotské has made just one change to the side which went down narrowly to the Bulls at Loftus last Saturday.

Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen comes in for Trevor Nyakane in the front-row.

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