Predictable Sharks squad named

2010-10-29 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree yesterday named an entirely predictable team for tomorrow’s Currie Cup final against Western Province at King’s Park with wing Odwa Ndungane returning to the starting line-up in the only change.

Ndungane, who has been a regular all season, takes over from the injured JP Pietersen in the only change to the side that started against the Blue Bulls in the semi-final.

Pietersen only lasted for the first quarter before he aggravated a hamstring injury and he is now sidelined for eight weeks. Springbok centre Adi Jacobs was in contention for the reserve bench, but his lack of match practice over the past six months obviously counted against him.

Plumtree said yesterday that the Sharks’ preparations for the final have been excellent.

“Obviously having that extra week between the final and semi-final enabled us to get over a few knocks and freshen everyone up. That is great, but Western Province are in the same position and they will be feeling pretty good about themselves.”

Plumtree said the players’ focus was on their own game rather than Western Province.

“We’re concentrating on our performance and not the outcome. We know what we’re up against in this Western Province side and we have to play to the best of our ability if we want to win.”

He said that the players understand what they need to do and preparations had not changed.

“The plan is in place and I guess that gives the players some calmness. We’ve practised and prepared well and that will give them confidence. We’ve talked to the different individuals and they’re all looking forward to it. But I’m sure this is all true of Western Province as well.”

He said that all the pre-match hype, the mind games and the underdog tag do not make any difference.

“At the end of the day, they have their side and we have ours. They have strengths and weakness and so do we, and we just need to play accordingly.

“There is always going to be the talk and the hype. But you can’t get away from the fact that they have a number of Springboks, particularly in their backline, and that gives them some serious armoury.”

Playing at home is an obvious advantage, the Sharks coach said.

“It’s great that we’re playing the final in Durban and we are able to treat our fans to this kind of event. We’ve worked really hard to get here all year. But, while the support is great, it’s not going to bring home the trophy. We have to make it happen ourselves and the players understand that.

“But it will be a huge boost to have the crowd behind us when we get momentum and rhythm into our game.”

It is reported from Cape Town that Western Province supporters remain concerned that referee Craig Joubert will again be in charge tomorrow. Joubert was the Stormers’ scapegoat after they lost the Super 14 final to the Bulls, but Province captain Schalk Burger and coach Allister Coetzee said yesterday they had no problem with his refereeing.

“Look, no one’s happy after every match,” Burger told News24. “The Super 14 final was an isolated incident where we didn’t agree.

“Things are perfect now; he’s refereed a few games we’ve been involved in. We understand he’s under pressure, as are the players, so hopefully you’ll have a good match from both sides on Saturday.

“If the weather plays ball it will be a great spectacle and I’m sure Craig will relish that environment as much as everyone else on the field.”

Coetzee agreed.

“I had a meeting with Craig earlier in the week and we’ve had some good discussions. I’m very positive about Craig.

We’ve dealt with issues that have occurred before. He’s a very competent ref and one of the best in the country. I feel comfortable he’s blowing this final.

“I understand clearly what he wants at breakdowns. He’s strict in that area and we learnt some lessons from the Super 14 final.

“We must just continue with what we’re doing on Saturday.”

The final kicks off at 5.30 pm tomorrow.

Sharks team:

15. Louis Ludik, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Stefan Terblanche (captain), 12. Andries Strauss, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5. Alistair Hargreaves, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Eugene van Staden, 18. Anton Bresler, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Rory Kockott, 21. Andre Pretorius, 22. Riaan Swanepoel

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