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Sharks not focused on revenge

Thu, 28 Feb 2013 14:00
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We want to be talking about home finals
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Sharks coach John Plumtree says they are not fixated on exacting revenge on the Stormers in Saturday’s Super Rugby clash for their Currie Cup Final loss last year.

While he admits that “That loss hurts me,” he adds, “but it has no relevance to this contest. The media love making a big thing of revenge, but it means nothing.

“Hopefully later in the year we’ll have the opportunity to win it back, but right now our focus is on this game, as will theirs.

“They will have their objectives for the weekend - just like us. This is a big derby game and I’m sure everyone is looking forward to it.”

The Sharks coach brushed off the Stormers’ defeat to the Bulls in their opening game last week and believes it would have had little impact on the men from Cape Town.

“One game and one loss at Loftus isn’t the end of the world, there is still a long way to go, both in the tournament and in this conference,” said Plumtree.

“The Bulls are a really good side, they have a number of Springboks, although they are in unfamiliar territory now because they’re used to dominating competitions but last year they didn’t go so well which would have hurt them.

“They’re a very proud region and going to Loftus to get a win is going to be hard for any team. It was just the first game and there is a long way to go so I don’t think the Stormers will be too worried, they’re still a good side.”

The Sharks kicked off their campaign with an away win against the Cheetahs last week and it was their proficiency in the line-outs that was particularly pleasing for Plumtree.  

“Our line-out has improved a lot, we saw that on the weekend. The Cheetahs have historically put us under pressure at line-out time and I thought we threw in beautifully so I was really pleased with that,” said Plumtree.

“A lot of work was done on our line-out in the pre-season which we know is an area the Stormers will look to put us under pressure and one where we’ll have to be accurate.”

The Stormers have two Springbok flyhalves in starting pivot Elton Jantjies and the returning Peter Grant in their matchday side, but Plumtree said their focus is on their own processes.  

“We’ve had problems with Peter Grant in the past, he’s played really well against us, Elton Jantjies has hurt us too, both are very good rugby players,” he said.

“But at the end of the day, we can’t focus on what their selections are, we need to make sure we get our bits and pieces together. We will worry about what we need to do, rather than worry about what will hit us.”

The Sharks finished runners-up last year after a rigorous travel schedule during the Finals Series, and Plumtree said they want to avoid the travel bogey this season by topping the South African conference.

“It’s no secret that winning your conference means you don’t have to go through so much travel at knockout time. We don’t want to put ourselves in the same situation we did last year,” he said.

“There were certain things that frustrated us through the year which led to that happening to us so all the talk during pre-season training has been that we want to make sure we don’t slip up when we should win and finding consistency in our game where we’re pushing for a semi.

“Which means not having to win to get a quarterfinal in Australia like what we had to last year. Finishing in the top six is no mean feat, this is a tough competition, but we want to be talking about home finals, that’s where we want to go. Talk is cheap, though, we have to do it on the field and I know a lot of teams are talking about doing the same thing.”

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