Sharks could feel Stormers’ backlash

2013-03-01 00:00

THE Sharks are taking little comfort from the Stormers’ limp showing at Loftus and their 25-17 loss to the Bulls in their Super Rugby opener last weekend.

The Stormers travel to Durban tomorrow to face the Sharks and they have taken flak from all sides this week with their coaching staff, media, fans and now their captain joining the chorus of criticism.

But the Sharks, who have been in similar back-to-the-wall positions before, are aware that they could be hit by the Stormers’ backlash tomorrow night.

Sharks coach John Plumtree is not reading anything into the Stormers’ defeat in Pretoria.

“One game and one loss at Loftus isn’t the end of the world in this competition,” he said.

“There is still a long way to go, both in the tournament and in this South African conference.

“The Stormers are still a good side and the last time most of their guys were here at King’s Park they took the Currie Cup off us.

“They’ll believe in themselves when they come here.”

Plumtree said that the defeat had to be put in perspective with the Stormers losing to “a really good Bulls side playing at home with their many Boks”.

“The Bulls had a good pre- season. They’ve been going for a while and their fitness levels are right up there,” he added.

He said that the Bulls were highly motivated “because they are in unfamiliar territory”.

“They’re used to dominating competitions, but they didn’t go so well last year which would have hurt them. They’re a very proud region and going to Loftus to get a win is going to be hard for any team. I don’t think the Stormers will be too worried.”

The Sharks and the Stormers are both missing four of their more influential players due to injury.

The Sharks are without captain Keegan Daniel, fellow-loose forward Willem Alberts, hooker Bismarck du Plessis and centre Tim Whitehead.

The sidelined Stormers are without their captain Schalk Burger, Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth, centre Juan de Jongh and fullback Jacon Taute.

“We’re not quite at full strength, but that will make for an interesting contest,” said Plumtree.

Stormers captain Jean de Villiers said his players had to take responsibility for their performances if they were to beat the Sharks, saying: “The players, young and old, are selected because they are good enough to be included in the team. It’s simply a question of players taking responsibility for playing the role that has been entrusted to them.”

He said the Stormers had lost to a better team in Pretoria “and that is a big wake-up call for us”.

While Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has again selected the out-of-touch Elton Jantjies at flyhalf, it is possible that the young Springbok will not be pressured into taking the goalkicks in the swirling wind at King’s Park.

Joe Pietersen, reliable and in-form, has replaced the injured Taute at fullback and he could also take over the goal-kicking duties.

Kicks off at 7.10 pm tomorrow.

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