Du Plessis gives up Sharks captaincy to regain form

2015-04-29 00:00

SHARKS hooker Bismarck du Plessis will not reassume his captaincy when the Durban outfit meet the Highlanders on Friday.

That is the official word coming from the Sharks’ base in Dunedin as they ­prepare for their first clash of their ­Australasian tour.

Du Plessis has finally served out the time on his ban, which he copped after kicking Chiefs eighthman Michael Leitch in round six. The subsequent red card and hearing saw him suspended for five games.

Two weeks ago, Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold was unclear whether Du Plessis would take over the captaincy upon his return — saying the issue would be discussed during the Sharks’ bye week.

That conversation obviously took place last week, and it seems sanity has prevailed. Du Plessis has vowed to focus solely on his own game, and perhaps without the burden of captaincy, he will be able to play with a bit more freedom — and hopefully a bit more care.

Gold tipped his hat to the burly Springbok yesterday, saying the decision was made by Du Plessis himself — in an effort to regain form, and more importantly respect and trust of Sharks fans.

“The situation is this: Bismarck has shown incredible humility about his personal situation over the past month and he feels that he just wants to get back into the Sharks team and make as big an impact as he can,” Gold said.

“It’s unbelievably noble of him to have this attitude and a much bigger deal as far as news goes than it is for us. Marco Wentzel has done a good job and he will retain the captaincy.”

It seems that Du Plessis’s attitude has made waves, and he looks set to start at hooker on Friday. Despite his horrendous mistake five weeks ago, there is no denying that Du Plessis would be in the starting lineup of any team around the world.

“We have been really impressed by Bismarck’s attitude, he’s come into the team, he wants to prove his worth and play well for the Sharks again. This has been driven by him and he wants to play well and we’ll back his selection to give him that opportunity. As far as I’m concerned, what’s happened has happened, he’s paid the price and we must move on now,” Gold said.

The decision is an encouraging one ahead of a difficult tour.

With so many players out injured and banned, the Sharks need all the experience they can get. Not many are more experienced than Du Plessis, and his presence in the Forsyth Barr Stadium will be well-noted.

With Wentzel at the helm, Du Plessis can focus on doing what he does best, playing hard, being a nuisance in open play and adding physicality to the Sharks’ cause.

He will help beef up the Sharks defence as well, and his work at the breakdowns will come in handy. With Du Plessis, Marcell Coetzee and Renaldo Bothma working towards the ball, the Sharks could prove a handful in the tight-loose.

And with the successful return of the “Bone Collector” Willem Alberts, the Sharks suddenly have a very formidable forward pack ahead of Friday’s fixture.

And what is more, the squad seem to be in good spirits, rejuvenated by a week’s break that marked the end ten weeks of consecutive Super Rugby fixtures.

“It’s been exceptional. We had a run on Saturday morning before we left and on Monday had one of the best training sessions we’ve had this year.

“I think the break was desperately needed, from the point of week-in and week-out rugby. Obviously things haven’t necessarily been going our way which has been a bit unfortunate, but they managed to get a break, spend time with their families and they came back raring to go.

“Everyone is excited about the challenge,” Gold said.

It certainly will be a challenge, and the Highlanders will be hungry after their 31-10 loss to the Brumbies last year.

Gold has taken a page out of the Australian side’s book, and believes they have provided the blueprint to beating the Highlanders.

“We saw with the Brumbies that if you stick to your basics well, you can be successful against the Highlanders. But they will be smarting after the weekend’s loss to the Brumbies, no doubt, it will be a very tough challenge,” Gold said.

The Sharks take on the Highlanders on Friday. Kickoff is at 9.35 am.

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