Working hard on breakdowns

2012-02-08 00:00

THE phoney war is all but over and the Sharks enter the final stages of their Super Rugby preparations this week.

Coach John Plumtree said yesterday that the emphasis at training was changing as the Sharks prepared to face Boland on Friday and the Eastern Province Kings a week later in Port Elizabeth. They open their Super Rugby challenge against the Bulls in Pretoria on February 24.

“It’s really starting for us this week,” said Plumtree. “The weekend trials were really about looking at one or two combinations and seeing where the boys were in terms of their fitness and conditioning.

“The trials weren’t a bad hit-out for us and it was obviously important that the players had that contact session. We’ve had a pretty long pre-season and the boys are fit, so we’ll back off that training a little bit and focus on the technical side ahead of Friday’s game.”

Plumtree said a couple of players had impressed during the trial.

“But it’s still early days and the guys haven’t played for 11 or 12 weeks so it will take time.”

He said the strict blowing of the referee had prevented any flow in the trials.

“The referees are being strict on players arriving at the breakdown. That’s something we’re working really hard on right now and we also had the heat, humidity and wet ball to contend with. I’m hoping we’ll see a good game against Boland this week with more continuity”

Plumtree said that the Sharks would be in “match mode in terms of our preparations this week”.

He is expecting Boland, the Currie Cup first division champions, to provide intense competition.

“They’ll come here with lots of energy. They haven’t been in Durban for a couple of years so they’ll look forward to coming here.

“Eugene Eloff [former Lions coach] has done a good job with Boland. They won the trophy last year and I’m sure they’re keen to put on a good show against a Super Rugby side.

“They’ll enjoy the opportunity of playing the Sharks and our guys are looking forward to playing opponents other than their team-mates,” said Plumtree.

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