‘Not good enough’: Plumtree questions Sharks’ mental approach

2011-02-03 00:00

THE Sharks were yesterday counting the cost of their heavy defeat by the Lions, and a back injury to Springbok lock Alistair Hargreaves has left them facing a second-row crisis.

The Sharks face the Stormers in the final game of the Triangular Series at Newlands on Saturday evening and they will be without their top three locks for the friendly.

Just a week ago the Sharks were confident they had both quality and depth at lock with Springboks Hargreaves and Steven Sykes backed by Ross Skeate and Gerhard Mostert. Sykes was the first to go down — with a groin strain last week – and then Skeate (broken finger) and Hargreaves, hospitalised with a back injury, were injured during the 41-10 thumping by the Lions on Tuesday night.

The back injury to Hargreaves was initially thought to be serious.“It does not look good and, it is a big concern for us,” said coach John Plumtree, but the news last night was more encouraging.

“Alistair’s injury is not as bad as we first thought,” said assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards. “I’ve just heard now that he will only be out for a couple of weeks so he will probably miss the opening round or two of Super Rugby.”

Reece-Edwards said that Skeate would not need surgery on his broken finger and he would be sidelined for “about three weeks”.

Fullback Louis Ludik left the field with a badly bruised thigh and while he will miss Saturday’s game he is certain to be ready for the Super Rugby opener against the Cheetahs on February 19.

Mostert and Anton Bresler will lock the scrum against the Stormers who have the towering Andries Bekker back in the second-row for Saturday’s televised game.

The Sharks, and their dozen Springboks, are certain to have also taken a pummelling from Plumtree yesterday after their disappointing defeat.

Plumtree said that there had been a feeling of deja vu watching his team lose by 31 points to his close friend John Mitchell’s Lions. A year ago the Sharks lost the corresponding game 26-0 to Western Force who were also coached by Mitchell.

Plumtree was critical of the Sharks’ mental approach.

“When you conceded three tries to driving mauls you have to question the attitude. We have a much better quality squad this year, but a lot of rugby is all about attitude, and that can be measured in how you defend near your line,” he said.

The Sharks also conceded possession on 24 occasions and lost the penalty count 15-7. Plumtree was not happy.

“It just wasn’t good enough and there are a lot of individual players who let themselves down and who are going to have to pick themselves up and prove themselves when we play the Stormers.”

Mitchell conceded that the Lions had benefited from playing the Stormers last Friday. “We had the reference point of the Stormers match to work on and that helped us a lot,” said Mitchell. “We saw what went wrong there and where we fell down and it gave us something to work on, which we did over the past three days.”

News from the Stormers camp is that coach Allister Coetzee is staying with Gary van Aswegen at flyhalf — ahead of Lionel Cronje — for the match against the Sharks.

Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger will be at Springbok team-mate Butch James’s wedding this weekend and are not available, but Bok prop CJ van der Linde has been included in the front-row.

Stormers team: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Paul Bosch, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Wimpie van der Walt, 5 Andries Bekker (c), 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 CJ van der Linde.

Replacements: Siyabonga Ntubeni, Wicus Blaauw, Frans Malherbe, Adriaan Fondse, Pieter Louw, Ruan Kitshoff, Dewaldt Duvenage, Elgar Watts, Johann Sadie, Tim Whitehead, Danie Poolman, Lionel Cronje. Kick-off: 5 pm

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