‘Tidy it up’ says Plumtree

2011-08-31 00:00

THE Sharks will be without Springbok number eight Ryan Kankowski for the next month, coach John Plumtree confirmed yesterday.

Kankowski fractured a thumb in the opening minutes of the Currie Cup game against the Lions at Ellis Park and Plumtree described it as “a big blow”.

Kankwoski will be sidelined for four weeks, missing games against the Blue Bulls (Pretoria), the Pumas (Durban), Free State (Bloemfontein) and Griquas in Durban.

Plumtree hopes to have the backrower back for the games against Western Province (Durban), Leopards (Royal Bafokeng) and the Lions (Durban) before the semi-final play-offs.

The Sharks still have Jacques Botes, Marcell Coetzee and Keegan Daniel to provide Plumtree with backrow options.

Plumtree said Daniel is also a fitness concern ahead of the Bulls game in Pretoria.

“Keegan rolled his ankle and didn’t train today, but we are hoping he will be fit for Thursday. Alistair Hargreaves [who was out with bronchitis] will be back for this weekend,” the Sharks coach said.

Plumtree is particularly pleased to have Jean Deysel back from the Boks.

“We’re a better side when he’s playing, that’s for sure. He’s a great leader and he provides a fair bit of go-forward. We’ll be looking forward to him having a big influence on our game over the next two months,” he said.

Reflecting on the Ellis Park defeat, Plumtree said that there was disappointment in the squad.

“We had to play very well if we wanted to win up there and we didn’t achieve our objectives. Obviously discipline was a major factor and we conceded far too many penalties.

“We felt like we were going backwards the whole day and we never got going. It was a tough day and we didn’t play well enough on defence or attack to win that game.”

Plumtree said poor discipline has become “a real problem”.

“When we’ve been at our most disciplined this year we’ve played very well. But when we’ve conceded a lot of penalties we have struggled. We have to make sure we tidy it up and that’s been one of the messages for the boys this week.”

He said that some of the younger players “became stressed with the intensity of the occasion”.

“There were some basic errors defensively and that was because of the intensity and speed of the game. We have to remember that the Lions are a side who have been playing Super Rugby.”

The Sharks are expecting another “massive challenge” at Loftus this week, he added.

“There is very little between the top sides in the competition and we are away from home again.

“But a win is attainable if we play good rugby. That’s been a big focus for us the last few days, to get our game going and start building some pressure.

“We’ve made something like 300 more tackles this year than in last year’s campaign; that gives a slight indication of how much defensive work we’re doing. We have to get our attack game going,” Plumtree said.

The Bulls are hoping that most of their walking wounded are ready for the Sharks game, team doctor Org Strauss said yesterday

Lock Juandré Kruger is expected to return to the starting line-up after suffering an ankle injury against Griquas two weeks ago and missing Friday’s clash against the Leopards in Rustenburg.

Dewald Potgieter will also be able to play after recovering from an operation to his nose. Other players nursing niggles, said Strauss, are Flip van der Merwe (bruised knee), Dean Greyling (bruised shin), Wynand Olivier (back spasm), Bjorn Basson (flu) and Deon Stegmann (cheekbone).

Strauss said that all these players, apart from Stegmann, should be fit for the Sharks game.

One of South Africa’s leading referees, Mark Lawrence, will handle the game.

This weekend’s fixtures (home team first):

Friday: Pumas vs Lions 7.10 pm

Saturday: Leopards vs Cheetahs 3 pm; Griquas vs WP 3 pm; Blue Bulls vs Sharks 5.05 pm.

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