ON THE EDGE
End of an era
Tue, 09 Jul 2013 12:54
It's happening, it's a reality that there's a lot of guys leaving the union
Although he may have already parted ways with the Sharks, the John Plumtree era at Kings Park will only come to an end this weekend.
The Kiwi coach was at the helm in Durban for five years before being dumped by new CEO and former Sharks skipper John Smit last month, and there will be a few more who follow him out the door.
The match against the Kings at Kings Park this weekend will be the last match in charge for Plumtree's assistants Grant Bashford and Hugh Reece-Edwards, with Brendan Venter set to take up his new role as Director of Rugby from the start of the Currie Cup.
However, Plumtree and his coaching staff could well be followed by a few players, after scrumhalf Charl McLeod hinted that there could be something of an exodus at the conclusion of the Super Rugby season.
"It's happening, it's a reality that there's a lot of guys leaving the union and the coaches leaving the union as well," said McLeod.
"It's all part of the game. But it's the last game, we still want to finish on a high and it will be so much sweeter for all those departing to finish on a high.
"So regardless of the emotion, we want to end strongly," he added.
They will definitely be losing lock Franco van der Merwe, who is on loan from the Lions, whilst Ryan Kankowski and JP Pietersen are set for stints in Japan despite recently signing contract extensions.
Utility back Meyer Bosman is on his way to France where he will join Top 14 club Stade Francais, whilst the Sharks will also be losing fullback Riaan Viljoen and lock Jandre Marais who are both headed for the door.
There has also been speculation over the future of brothers Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis, although the Sharks have reportedly been working with SARU to counter the lucrative offers from abroad.
The Stormers are apparently keen to sign young lock Pieter-Steph du Toit although he is currently in negotiations with the Sharks to renew his contract, and Butch James' career could finally come to an end when his contract expires at the end of the season.
The Durban side have been hit hard by injuries this season, and McLeod admitted that the constant setbacks have influenced the morale of the team.
"Injuries definitely played their part, you can't play your whole campaign with so many injured guys.
"I think you see the difference it made in our pack when we got a couple of ball carriers back, so it might well have been a different story if we had those guys for the whole season," McLeod explained.
Defeat in Pretoria to the table-topping Bulls last week has left the Sharks in 10th place on the log and they can drop to 11th if they fail to win, while victory, coupled by other results going their way could lift them as high as seventh.
McLeod admitted not making the play-offs was dejecting.
"We're obviously disappointed in the fact that we didn't make the play-offs," he said.
"We had big aspirations for this year and it didn't work out for us.
"Hopefully we'll finish on a nice high. That will also make our fans proud."
The Sharks and Kings have already met once this season when the former edged to a 21-12 win in Port Elizabeth and McLeod was expecting a tough contest against the bottom placed side from the Eastern Cape.
"They've been a tough opponent for a lot of teams the whole year through. They're very structured and very good on defence. So it's going to take a big 80 minute performance from us to close out the win," he said.
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