‘Stay calm, keep a lid on the hype’

2010-10-27 00:00

STAYING calm and managing the hype — that is the greatest challenge facing Sharks coach John Plumtree and captain Stefan Terblanche as they look ahead to Saturday’s Currie Cup final against Western Province.

Plumtree said yesterday there is “no specific thing that leads to winning or losing a final”.

“But for the younger players you have to keep a lid on the hype, prepare them well and make sure they understand that they have to go out and perform. The crowd will not do it for them. They have to do the playing, as they have all season.”

Terblanche agreed and said the emphasis is on keeping as calm as possible.

“You don’t need any extra motivation in a week like this. The week has its own momentum. But you want to try and enjoy the experience and take everything in because it does not happen too often. That’s what I have told the younger players, even to write things down, because if you get to a final again you want to be as well prepared as possible.”

Plumtree said he is relying on the senior group of players to help the youngsters handle the occasion and the pressure.

“The semi-final against the Blue Bulls was a good dress rehearsal for this week, certainly in terms of intensity. Most of the young fellows fronted up and on Saturday there are going to be another 15 000 people in the stadium and the prize at the end is the ultimate.”

He said he has every confidence in young players like flyhalf Pat Lambie and wing Lwazi Mvovo.

“They have calm heads and they have experienced players around them who will help them settle.”

The Sharks coach said that he has used the disappointments of the Super 14 to motivate the players for the Currie Cup.

“We spoke about making up for our Super 14 in the Currie Cup, not only in terms of results but also by the way we wanted to play.

“The general feedback I have had from the supporters is that they have really loved the way we have played and that means a lot to me.

“It’s been particularly satisfying to see the players enjoying what they are doing and embracing the style of rugby. We had to put a lot of work into the way we wanted to play the game, and that happened. We scored the most tries in the Currie Cup, developed some young players along the way and we’re having a home final. That’s not happened too many times in the past.”

While Province were given a relatively easy ride into the final by Free State, the Sharks had to overcome a big, bruising Blue Bulls team in a tight semi-final.

Plumtree said he would only know after 80 minutes on Saturday which side has benefited most from their contrasting play-off games.

“I don’t think there is a clear indicator of the best preparation. It is more a case of which side prepares well, gets the right game plan and goes out there and performs on the day.

“We’re happy with our run-in, it was a tough match against the Bulls and we were tested, which was good for this final.

“And losing to Province a few weeks ago [in the final Currie Cup league game] is still fresh in our players’ minds.”

Plumtree said that apart from the hamstring injury to JP Pietersen, which has ruled him out for the Bok tour to the UK, the players are all fit.

He said the Bok camp at the weekend had not disrupted the Sharks.

“We planned around it and it didn’t really affect us too much. A couple of our Bok forwards took knocks against the Bulls, but they did not take too much part in the physical side of the camp.”

He said the minds of the players are on the final and not the Springbok squad announcement on Saturday night.

“They can’t control selection, but they can control what happens on the field on Saturday. The players of both sides will be switched on for the final.”

Vice-captain and flank Keegan Daniel said the tight five, rather than the talented back-rows of both teams, have a key role to play in the final. Province have a loose trio of Schalk Burger, Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen up against Daniel, Willem Alberts and Ryan Kankowski.

“We all know what kind of talent in the loose forward department exists in South Africa and Province are no different.

They have an excellent back-row, and an abrasive one, but my personal opinion is that when the tight five dominate, it makes it easier for the loose forwards to have an impact on the game.

“They have got great loose forwards, but we also have some talent in that department. It’s going to come down to which forward pack dominates.”

The final kicks off at 5.30 pm on Saturday.

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