Plumtree to opt for continuity in Sharks team to meet Pumas on Friday night

2010-07-21 00:00

SHARKS head coach John Plumtree said yesterday the emphasis will be on continuity when he selects the team to meet the Pumas in Friday night’s Currie Cup game at King’s Park.

Addressing the media at his weekly press conference in Durban yesterday, Plumtree said he is looking to his players to build on what they had achieved in beating the Blue Bulls at the weekend.

“Against this Pumas side, we will get opportunities to play, but it is how we hold on to the ball, create opportunities and then finish off that will be critical. We know they’re good enough to score against us, and we’ve conceded eight tries in two weeks, which is not good.

“I want the guys to defend well and that’s mostly about attitude. If we concede a lot of tries, we won’t achieve our goal.

“I’m quite keen to have some continuity against the Pumas, but I hope to see some players having more time off the bench.

“There is also competition for places. If a player lets himself down, he will be replaced. It’s a simple message.”

Plumtree said that burly loose forward Willem Alberts, back from injury, will be among the replacements.

“We don’t have too many options in the front row, but (lock) Ross Skeate and Alberts will play off the bench.

“With Charl McLeod, Steve Meyer and Pat Lambie in that 9-10-12 combination, it’s important that they keep growing.”

The Sharks coach said he was delighted with the form shown by his back three of Louis Ludik, JP Pietersen and Lwazi Mvovo against the Bulls.

“The back three took their opportunities and it is only fair that they are rewarded. Having the courage to attack is important. My vision of the game is based on keeping the ball and not kicking it away. Of course that depends on how good the defence is, but against better teams, you might not see the ball again for eight or 10 phases if you kick it away.”

Plumtree was particularly taken with the form of scrumhalf McCleod against the Bulls.

“I thought Charl was excellent. His speed is one of his strengths and it’s important that he goes out there and plays his natural game.

“Scrumhalf has become such a crucial role in terms of speed of delivery and speed in clearing the ball and I thought he really took his opportunities well.”

The New Zealand-born coach said it is particularly satisfying to see the hard work in pre-season bearing fruit against the Bulls.

“It came together against the Bulls, but the challenge for us as a team is to grow that game.

“The one thing about the Pumas is that they are big and physical. They’ve conceded a few tries, but scored seven themselves, so they are capable.

“They have got some speed, their backs run well on to the ball and their pack looks well-organised and well-drilled.

“Our players need to be in a good mental state of mind to achieve our goals on Friday,” said Plumtree.

The game kicks off at 7 pm.

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