Plumtree backs SA sides
Cape Town – John Plumtree expects the Bulls and Stormers to contest this year’s Super 14 final.
“The question is where the final will be played. Home advantage will be massive,” the Sharks coach told Sport24.
The Sharks’ hopes of still making it to the semi-finals were killed off with their defeat to the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
And to make matters worse there are doubts about Springbok captain John Smit’s participation after he injured his neck in Pretoria.
Smit injured his neck during a scrum engagement in the match against the Bulls. He said on Twitter that the damage is not serious and that he hopes to be able to play on Saturday.
Bismarck du Plessis is already on the injured list and that may force the Sharks to hand Craig Burden their No 2 jersey.
In another setback it has emerged that lock Johann Muller injured his arm and he will not play in the Super 14 again this year.
Meanwhile, there will be a lot at stake for the Stormers on Saturday.
While it will be a surprise if they fail to secure a semifinal, they are under pressure to ensure that it will be contested at Newlands.
On top of that they still have a chance of topping the log, which will ensure home advantage if they make the final.
As far as the Bulls are concerned, home advantage in the semi-final or final will be of less value than it was in the past as they will play these games at the Orlando Stadium due to Loftus being off limits as it is a host venue for soccer’s World Cup.
Plumtree praised the Stormers as an “excellent side”.
“Their forwards have stood up more with the young players having been together for a number of years. They are more of an all-round side. They were also ambitious with their contracting,” said Plumtree.
He was also fuming on Monday after allegedly being misquoted as criticising flyhalf Andy Goode and Sharks commercial manager Rudolf Straeuli.
“Do you really think an experienced coach like me will criticise a player at a news conference?
“I mentioned that we need to be ambitious in our recruitment and straight away the conclusion was drawn that I was criticising Rudolf and Andy.
“I never said that and totally deny it. I play a huge part in recruitment myself.
“We thought we’d have Juan Martin Hernandez and Adrian Jacobs available this year, but they were injured. At times we are the victims of circumstances.”