Mental focus a must to win Super 14

2008-04-14 00:00

Sydney — Sharks assistant coach John Plumtree believes that the key to beating the Brumbies this weekend is to dominate them in every area.

"What we saw from them against the Blues was them muscling up big time at the breakdown areas … " he admitted. "You can only be impressed with them … beating the Blues on their own pitch."

After a few ordinary performances, the Brumbies have stepped up and are looking dangerous. They also had Stirling Mortlock back from injury and look settled. "They obviously did some soul-searching after the Chiefs match and against the Blues they showed a big improvement."

For Plumtree, the game revolves around winning up front, and once that is achieved, everything falls into place. So far, the Sharks have fronted up and against some robust opposition and have not taken a backward step.

He says that standing up is one thing, but dominating is key. "Especially against the best sides in the competition; if you come second in the collision areas, generally you lose the rugby match."

It isn’t only the contact aspect that the Sharks have to be at their best, but also in the thinking stakes.

The Brumbies are renowned for their patience and ability to maintain pressure on attack, waiting for the most opportune time to strike.

If the Sharks are to maintain their unbeaten record, they are going to have to be on top of their game, both physically and mentally.

"Mentally, if you are off the mark by 10%, you’re going to lose. We’ve got to be smart.

The game plan that we put together: we need to produce, and we need to match their intensity," says Plumtree.

The Sharks got back into training yesterday in preparation for Saturday’s match. Kick-off is 11.40 pm.

Michael Marnewick is covering the Sharks’ Super 14 tour for The Witness.

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