Plumtree’s flyhalf dilemma

2010-03-24 00:00

SHARKS head coach John Plumtree is facing a flyhalf dilemma as he looks ahead to Saturday’s Super 14 clash against his old Hurricanes team in Wellington.

Plumtree has been fielding Andy Goode at flyhalf on their tour of the Antipodes, but the Englishman, who picked up a hamstring strain in the warm-up to the weekend win over the Highlanders, had a poor first half before he was benched.

With Ruan Pienaar moving from scrumhalf to flyhalf and replacement Rory Kockott at the base of the scrum, the Sharks had more rhythm on attack in the second half, and Plumtree may opt to start with the pair against the Hurricanes.

But the Sharks coach is reluctant to switch Pienaar away from his preferred position at scrumhalf again unless it is on a permanent basis.

Goode, more of a tactical kicker than a running flyhalf, may be Plumtree’s choice for a game that seems certain to be played in a typical wet, windy Wellington — but his fitness could be the deciding factor.

Goode’s contractual position with the Sharks remains unclear. The Sharks end their marathon five-match tour of Australasia on Saturday and play their remaining six games in South Africa.

Sharks commercial manager Rudolf Straeuli is working on obtaining a work permit for the Englishman for the remainder of the Super 14 season, and Plumtree apparently wants to keep Goode on board even if the Sharks are no longer in contention.

If Goode is not involved, young Pat Lambie must be an obvious candidate for flyhalf, but the Sharks have also not given up on Butch James.

Ever since the Sharks lost Juan Hernandez and then Steve Meyer on the eve of the Super 14, they have been in touch with just about every self-respecting flyhalf in world rugby, and this includes James, who is currently playing for Bath in England.

The former Bok and Sharks flyhalf is keen to return to Durban in a bid to qualify for the Rugby World Cup next year.

However, Bath have him under contract until 2012 and they are looking for a massive transfer fee.

Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl said yesterday that “a whole lot of water has to pass under the bridge before we can even contemplate getting Butch back”.

Straeuli has confirmed he has been speaking to Bath, but said that the Sharks will need the support of the SA Rugby Union and sponsors to bring James home.

Whether the Sharks can obtain that commitment — with James battling injury, and when Bok coach Peter de Villiers already has a proven match-winning flyhalf in Morné Steyn — remains to be seen.

James recently returned from another long layoff following knee surgery, and immediately showed excellent form for Bath before going down with a shoulder injury.

Meanwhile, the Sharks are gearing up for a massive battle against the Hurricanes, who returned to Wellington yesterday from their unsuccessful tour of South Africa. “It is going to be extremely competitive,” said Plumtree, referring to Saturday’s game.

“The Hurricanes and coach Colin Cooper are a proud bunch, and they are not going to be too pleased to have lost three games in a row in South Africa,” he added.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 8.35 am. Super 14 reserve panel referee, Australian Ian Smith, will handle the game.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.