‘We are going to play more French rugby,’ says Sharks coach

2011-09-01 00:00

THE Sharks will add a dash of French flair to their rugby when they take on the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup match at Loftus on Saturday evening.

Coach John Plumtree said that French Test flyhalf Frederic Michalak had convinced him to adopt a more expansive game plan and the Sharks would tinker with their style at Loftus this weekend.

Plumtree said, “Fred has finally convinced me to play wide to wide to wide [from wing to wing] and there’s going to be lots of entertainment. We are going to play more French rugby this week.”

Plumtree said that Michalak is enjoying his rugby back in Durban and this is reflected in the way the Frenchman is playing.

“It was a most timely signing,” said Plumtree of the decision to contract Michalak for a second time ahead of the Rugby World Cup and as a replacement for Springbok Pat Lambie.

“He’s a big part of what we do and he is loving it here,” he said.

Plumtree said that the Sharks did need to make adjustments.

“We aren’t happy with the way things are going and we think we need to try different things without making wholesale change.

“We have a young group, particularly in the forwards and, ultimately, the best forward pack and the best defence normally wins the big trophy. We have a lot of work to do,” Plumtree said.

The Sharks coach said that the team had to evolve “and keep the opposition guessing.”

He said, “At the moment we’re not and we’re not dangerous enough on attack. That’s the challenge, to try get our game going.

“It’s not just about the backs, it’s not about the midfield or the wings, but about the team collectively playing better.

“We think we have a good enough team and we want to play better rugby.”

Michalak has been in excellent form for the Sharks with his 86% success rate in kicking at goal an added bonus.

But his chief concern at present is the improved form of the Blue Bulls. The Sharks won the first round game 35-16 in Durban, but Michalak said they would be facing a different, stronger team on Saturday.

He said, “It’s a tough competition and every team is good. You have to work hard every week to try and make a difference.

“The Bulls are now much stronger with their Boks back and they have quality players. We are facing a different team in a different match and playing away from home. It is going to be tough and we’re preparing for a big game.”

Michalak said that the Sharks had also changed with experienced players rejoining the youngsters in the squad.

“We have to mix the two and we’re working hard at that.

“But I do think we’re in a good situation,” he added.

While the Sharks team will be announced this morning, Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar was yesterday able to beef up his team for Saturday’s game.

Springbok loose forward Dewald Potgieter has recovered from the broken nose and replaces Arno Botha, who will revert to the role of impact player off the bench.

Pienaar was also able to recall prolific try-scoring wing Bjorn Basson while lock Juandré Kruger, who also missed last week’s clash against the Leopards, also makes a return.

Pienaar said that the Bulls, in sixth spot on the log, were still under pressure to climb into the top four on the log.

“We might have won three in a row now, but it means nothing until we have moved into the play-off positions. Our aim remains to win the Currie Cup this year and to put ourselves in that position we will have to keep on winning and beat the Sharks on the weekend.

“It is great for a coach to be able to recall players like Dewald, Bjorn and Juandré, but it is still no guarantee for success. We will still need to bring our absolute A-game if we want to beat a very good side,” Pienaar said.


Blue Bulls team:

Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, Zane Kirchner, Wynand Olivier, Bjorn Basson, Louis Fouché, Jano Vermaak, CJ Stander, Dewald Potgieter, Warwick Tecklenburg, Juandré Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Gary Botha (capt), Dean Greyling.

Replacements: Willie Wepener, Rossouw de Klerk, Gerrit-Jan van Velze, Arno Botha, Francois Brummer, Francois Venter.

Kick-off: 5.05 pm.

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