Sharks in better mood, says JP

2013-05-14 00:00

WHILE coach John Plumtree believes their Super Rugby race has been run, Springbok wing JP Pietersen says the Sharks are still in positive mood ahead of Friday’s game against the Force in Perth.

Plumtree, in the gloom of the limp showing against the Reds in Brisbane on Friday — their fifth successive defeat — said that he thought that the Sharks were now “dead in the competition”.

But Pietersen said last night that the mood in the squad had changed since travelling to Perth and the players were looking forward to a dramatically improved showing against the Force.

“Five losses hurts and we know the only way out is to come up with a good plan, buy into it and remain focused.”

Pietersen said Plumtree, in spite of his pessimism in Brisbane, was in positive mood and had lifted the squad. “He has led by example and encouraged us. We have just had a good training session and the vibe is there. The mood is good on and off the field.”

Pietersen said the Sharks had made far too many mistakes to compete with the Reds.

“There were too many individual errors, knocking the ball on, missing one-on-one tackles and that’s definitely going to cost you against a team like the Reds with all their game-breakers. We played well in the second half but left ourselves with too much to do.”

He said the focus against the Force was on starting well, building a solid platform and playing for the full 80 minutes.

As an experienced Springbok, and in a squad robbed by injury of many of their senior players, the 26-year-old Pietersen admits he has a major role to play.

“I know my responsibility is to bring out the best in everyone around me and to stay positive. It’s frustrating for us not to come away with a win so far on tour and we came close against the Chiefs and Highlanders.

“So there is frustration, but the most important thing is to remain positive and focus on the Force. We know what we have to do. We want to win all our games from now on. Perhaps with some luck that can take us into the play-offs again.”

Pietersen said that the season had been a difficult one with many disruptions and injuries.

“But we’re tired of making excuses about injuries. We still have a good squad with guys capable of winning games …”

The Force are lying in 14th spot on the log (the Sharks are 11th), but Pietersen said they would be difficult to break down.

“They have a good defensive system and you could see that in the way they played against the Chiefs and Crusaders. They’re very accurate in what they do.

“We have the ammo to play the game, but you’re always on a race against time if you don’t start well. It is very difficult to come back in Super Rugby when you concede soft tries in the first half,” said Pietersen.

The Force are not reading too much into the Sharks’ run of losses and coach Michael Foley said last year’s beaten finalists contain threats across the field.

“They had a difficult start last year and came home strong,” Foley said. “They are traditionally a tough side and they have had a rough few weeks but some of their lesser-known players have stood up. We are aware of their threat at the set piece but they are able to play open rugby and have individuals who can turn games.”

Australian referee James Leckie will handle the game, which kicks off at 1.45 pm on Friday (SA time).

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