Plumtree and pals put Sharks to the test

2012-02-06 00:00

COACH John Plumtree had a bunch of his old team-mates and chums over to assess the Sharks’ talent at internal trial held at King’s Park at the weekend.

Plumtree invited former Sharks and Springboks team-mates Mark Andrews, John Allan, Jeremy Thomson and Dick Muir, along with former Wallaby wing David Campese, to assess the new crop of players.

“It’s always good to have other viewpoints,” said Plumtree “and that’s what these guys gave me. There is a lot of talent and I appreciate having other perspectives.

“It is just a pity that the power shutdown ended the trial early.”

Plumtree said the number of penalties and free kicks was disappointing.

“The referees are going to come down harder on players at the tackle. When we analyse the video of the trial we’ll know more. What we will look at is how accurate the players were at cleaning out at the rucks and the tackle.”

Plumtree was pleased with the continuity and the offloading in the tackles.

He also said there was a real chance that Springbok wing JP Pietersen would be used at outside centre.

“I thought JP was excellent in the trial. He combined really well with [fellow-centre] Meyer Bosman. And with Pat Lambie [flyhalf] running on to the ball, the midfield partnership was good.”

“JP is excited about moving to centre and that is the main thing. It’s not really about me. If he wasn’t interested in the switch, it wouldn’t happen. We’re giving him the chance, but we’re still in the baby stages. But if he’s keen to have another go, then we’ll do it.”

By using Pietersen at centre, Plumtree said, he would be able to share duties on the wing between Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane and Springbok sevens player Sibusiso Sithole.

Plumtree said it was unfortunate that centres Tim Whitehead and Paul Jordaan had not had much of an opportunity.

Another success on the night was powerful Sharks U21 lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, who was used on the flank and impressed with his workrate.

“The boys haven’t had a lot of time to work on lineouts so that area was rusty, but props Wiehahn Herbst and Dale Chadwick and locks Anton Bresler and Jandre Marais were good.

“We have come through a tough pre-season conditioning phase and I thought the boys looked fit and strong.”

Plumtree is looking ahead to the friendly against Boland at King’s Park on Friday.

“There will be some tough calls to make for Boland and then we’ll probably take around 24 players to Port Elizabeth for the game against Eastern Province a week later.

“That will be our dress rehearsal for the Bulls in the opening Super Rugby game [on February 24].”

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