Plumtree upbeat ahead of Stormers clash, despite injuries threat to Sharks

2010-08-18 00:00

SHARKS number eight Willem Alberts is struggling with injury ahead of the top-of-the-table Currie Cup match against unbeaten Western Province in Durban on Saturday, but coach John Plumtree has Springbok Ryan Kankowski back in the mix.

Plumtree said yesterday that a decision will be made about Alberts’s calf strain and fullback Louis Ludik tomorrow, “but we’re hoping they both come through.”

The coach said Kankowski, back from the Bok training camp and over his calf injury, had trained exceptionally well with the squad.

“That’s a real positive. He hasn’t had a lot of rugby, but the last time he played for us, he went really well against the Cheetahs. So it is great to have him back in the squad.”

Plumtree said the Sharks also have front-rowers Beast Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis available.

“They bring that extra experience, which we’re going to need against a Province pack that has shown very few changes.”

He said the two top teams in the competition have both found some good form.

“ We have a lot respect for Province. They’ve been working hard on their game, they’re pretty accurate in everything they do and they’re consistent. We will have to play very well on Saturday if we are to beat them.”

The Sharks coach said Province have concentrated on strengthening their tight five.

“It’s basically the same tight five which played in the Super 14 so that’s a big bonus for them. They have had to juggle their backs around because of their Springboks commitments, but their pack, apart from [flank] Francois Louw, have remained together, and that’s a luxury we haven’t had.”

Plumtree said he is satisfied with the progress made by the Sharks, who are just a point behind log-leaders Province.

“We’ve done pretty well after dropping our first game [against Griquas]. It hasn’t always been about winning, but how we’ve improved as a group. We were patchy and inconsistent in terms of form at the start, but now we’ve got in a groove and the players understand what I want from them in terms of performance and working hard on fronting up as individuals.”

Plumtree said competition in certain areas has also lifted the level of performance.

Victory over Province on Saturday would take the Sharks clear at the top of the log.

“That would be great, but a lot of work needs to be done for that to happen.”

Plumtree said he is pleased with Pat Lambie’s form at flyhalf.

“He really kicked well against the Leopards and he’s growing in confidence all the time at this level. I’m pretty happy with what he’s doing at the moment.”

Saturday’s match kicks off at 7.10 pm.

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