Plumtree having sleepless nights

Tue, 16 Oct 2012 16:29
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Sharks coach John Plumtree’s healthy selection dilemma is causing him sleepless nights ahead of the weekend’s Currie Cup play-offs.

Sharks coach John Plumtree’s healthy selection dilemma is causing him sleepless nights ahead of the weekend’s Currie Cup play-offs.

"It hasn't been easy, there's been a little bit of walking around in the middle of the night," Plumtree said at a press conference on Tuesday on deciding whether or not to play his returning Springboks in Saturday’s semifinal against the Blue Bulls at Kings Park.

"But I've been in this situation so many times before.

"It's about finding a balancing act between breaking up the rhythm you already have and bringing great players back into your side, which the Springboks are.

"We've seen it work before and we've also seen it fail. So we just have to make sure we pick the 22, which will do the job on the day."

Plumtree, in contrast to opposing coaches Pine Pienaar (Blue Bulls) and Allister Coetzee (Western Province), resisted the temptation to stack the deck with returning national stars in the team’s final regular season match against Griquas in Durban last weekend.

Fielding only flyhalf Pat Lambie and flank Marcell Coetzee, the Sharks romped to a 42-3 bonus point win over the semifinal hopefuls to secure a home semi and possible home Final next week.

"Generally, from my experience, when the Boks have been successful, they've struggled to come back and play Currie Cup rugby," Plumtree explained.

"I'm not saying it's a generic thing, but it's from my experience."

Lock Steven Sykes (calf), wing Odwa Ndungane (leg) and flank Jacques Botes (back) are the only injury concerns for the Durban side, who in recent years have re-established Kings Park as a fortress, having suffered just a solitary defeat on home soil in the past three seasons.

Plumtree, however, said their home record counts for little.

"It's all in the past, we will lose a game here soon, probably," he said.

"Hopefully it won't be this weekend or this year.

"There's so much to look forward to after 11 weeks of hard work. We just want to go for two more weeks.

"We know what we're up against, a very hungry Bulls side.

"They'll be looking to prove a point after a tough year.

"There's four teams now that can finish the season on a high and that's what they will all be talking about.”

The Sharks coach dismissed the much-anticipated positional battle between Lambie Springbok veteran Morne Steyn as media hype.

"I haven't given it too much thought," he said.

"It's all media talk. Pattie did a good job for us last week and hopefully he'll do a good job for us this week."

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