Plumtree upbeat despite Bulls reverse

2008-07-07 00:00

A WEEK ago, the Bulls were welcoming some of their top stars back, something that obviously bolstered the team ahead of a big clash against the injury-ravaged Sharks.

This week, the Sharks find themselves in a similar boat. They certainly missed the skills and experience of their injured players, but the good news from coach John Plumtree is that Brad Barritt, Rory Kockott, Steven Sykes and Frederic Michalak are all expected at training today “and we’ll assess them after that”.

He confirmed that following a physical match like the Absa Currie Cup clash against the Blue Bulls, there are minimal injury problems in the camp. “Deon Carstens took a little bit of a calf muscle injury and Nic Strauss is okay, but has a little bit of a knee injury, which will be assessed, and he’ll undergo rehab today.”

Following the loss, the coach’s attitude is one of disappointment mixed with excitement.

“We missed some important one-on-one tackles, which let us down, and that was disappointing because we knew that if they gained momentum through their big runners, they would stress us out wide,” he said. “We have a little bit of inexperience in the backs, but as they play, they will improve.

“But the positive sign is we played some of our best rugby of the year. I thought some of the rugby we put together was better than some of the stuff we did in the Super 14, so that was encouraging for us.”

Although the Sharks only scored one try, they managed to create a number of opportunities and any coach will admit that the problem is when opportunities are not created.

“There is a lot of stuff we are working on that’s actually coming through,” he said. “Your average person won’t see that, they only see the scoreboard, but we saw some really positive rugby. There is a lot of stuff, in terms of strategy, that we are trying to put in place to get better.”

The late loss of Bradley Barritt necessitated some rotation amongst the backs and the coach admitted that flyhalf Monty Dumond deserves special mention.

“It was hard for Monty, he had no preparation time. Chris Jordaan, too, I thought did well. He showed some good signs in his footwork and his running game and he’s had absolutely zero conditioning with us so that’s an area we can work on in the next few months.”

Despite the loss, the Sharks still remain in the top four and against the Valke at home this weekend, the Sharks will be pressing for a full house of log points to maintain their Absa Currie Cup challenge.

“We’ve had three games and two wins, we’re looking forward to Friday night and we’re all positive here,” Plumtree said.

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