Sharks to turn ship around

2013-03-19 00:00

JOHN Plumtree and his coaching staff were forced to keep reliving their worst nightmare on Sunday when they dragged themselves through replays of the Brumbies bullying and beating the Sharks in their Super Rugby game at King’s Park.

The 29-10 Saturday evening defeat in front of the dismayed King’s Park 24 000 crowd, and the little rugby played by the home team in the first half, has played havoc with the Sharks’ routine with meetings and analysis replacing the usual weekly preparations.

And it started on the day of rest. While shell-shocked Sharks supporters were lying back and thinking of anything but rugby, the coaches were painfully picking their way through the wreckage of the defeat.

“We spent all day on Sunday analysing the game,” said assistant coach Grant Bashford yesterday.

It must have been painful viewing, but Bashford said that the coaches had “come up with some solutions.”

“We now have this week to put those plans in place and the proof will be in how we play this weekend.”

The Sharks face the Rebels on Saturday evening and head coach Plumtree said that the Australians would mount a similar challenge to the Brumbies.

“They play the same sort of rugby, but they are probably not as accurate as the Brumbies,” he said.

The Sharks, Plumtree added, face a test of their resolve.

“The media and fans will get into us, and rightly so. But it’s how we respond, that’s now the key. We have a week to turn this ship around and that’s what we need to focus on.”

He said that he hoped his players had learnt that they could not sit back and watch a team attack.

Asked if the Sharks were suffering because of the absence of their most physical forwards (Willem Alberts, Jean Deysel and Bismarck du Plessis), Plumtree said that they could not use that as an excuse.

“We can’t look in that direction. We need to cope with the players who are fit and everyone available has to front up. We have to lift our game every week to compete,” he added.

Bashford, like Plumtree, made no excuses and said that the Sharks had been outplayed and outthought by the Brumbies.

“The game was basically over in 25 minutes and we couldn’t play catch-up because we were inaccurate in just about everything we did.

“We can’t change what’s happened, but certainly we can change what’s coming.

“We are looking for a performance that will make everyone proud.”

The Sharks, after their abject weekend showing, can take none of the Super Rugby teams for granted.

“We know what the Rebels are going to bring,” said Bashford.

“They beat the Crusaders last year and they will look at our performance against the Brumbies and that will give them a lot of confidence.

“Our challenge is to get our game going and make sure we play well, because if we do that, we’ll back ourselves to beat anyone.”

A number of players, among them fullback Louis Ludik and prop Jannie du Plessis, are nursing injuries and they will be assessed later in the week.

Kick-off on Saturday is 5.05 pm and South African Lourens van der Merwe is the referee.

Meanwhile, Springbok and Cheetahs flyhalf Johan Goosen has been sidelined for the season after damaging his knee during a team training session in Sydney yesterday.

Goosen was practising his kicking when he slipped and fell, tearing his cruciate ligament and he faces six months on the sidelines though a final assessment will only be made when he returns to Bloemfontein this week.

He seems certain to miss the rest of Super Rugby and the international season.

The 20-year-old Goosen played for the Boks last year, but he has already suffered serious knee, foot and shoulder injuries. Riaan Smit is likely to take over from Goosen in the Cheetahs line-up for the match against the Force in Perth on Saturday.

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