Plumtree calls WP destructive
Durban – There's little you can tell John Plumtree about finals, and the accomplished Sharks coach has called on his knowledge of the psychological aspect by questioning Western Province’s play at the breakdown.
He described WP’s play in that area of the game as “destructive” ahead of Saturday’s Currie Cup final, and is happy that Craig Joubert has been appointed to referee the game.
Joubert was in the firing line after the Stormers’ defeat to the Bulls in the Super14 final. He penalised the Stormers heavily at the breakdown, leaving captain Schalk Burger wondering if there might be two sets of laws.
Plumtree said it’s the application of the same set of laws for both teams that gives him peace of mind, though he is very concerned about WP’s play at the breakdown.
“The game won’t be won and lost there, but it is one of the most important aspects of the game. It’s about getting quick ball, and if you can’t get it, you won’t get your game going or be able to build momentum,” he said.
Plumtree said that the Sharks’ loose trio had a different approach to the breakdown than their opponents.
“WP are destructive in approaching the breakdown. Add to that two sets of very aggressive tight forwards and a few big backline players, and it’s clear that the potential for fireworks is there.”
He does not believe Joubert will carry any ill will from the Orlando final into the game, but isn't sure whether WP have improved enough to not find themselves at the wrong end of his whistle again.
“There is still chaos in that aspect and WP are still very destructive there. I know Craig understands what it’s about. They will attack our ball and we will attack theirs. That is why it’s so important that both teams are refereed according to the same set of laws.
"That will allow us to play our game.”
Plumtree said his experience of finals with Swansea, Wellington and the Sharks has taught him that there's no way to guarantee success.
“The big unknowns are how you prepare for the final, whether your game plan will be the right one and how it will be executed.”
He said there were numerous positive aspects of the Sharks’ play this year.
“We've brought young players through the ranks who will make major contributions to the Sharks in the coming years. And equally important, we have established a style of rugby that people can get excited about. They attend matches on Saturdays to support us because of the way we've been playing,” said Plumtree.
A win on Saturday will be a just reward for that effort.
“If you ask me whether we need to win to make the season a success, I'll say yes. My team won’t run out of the tunnel on Saturday with a different mindset. There is only one goal for us, and that is to win the Currie Cup. And Western Province know it.”