Gold fears the Plum factor
Cape Town - Beleaguered Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold thinks the Hurricanes team that his men face in Wellington in a Super Rugby tour match on Saturday will smell blood in the water and go all out for a comprehensive victory rather than be lured into any sense of complacency.
There are 22 log points separating the Hurricanes from the Sharks, reports the supersport.com website, and in terms of how the players and the supporters feel, there is even more of a world of difference between the two sides.
The Hurricanes are riding the cusp of a confidence wave and top the log, whereas in Durban the Sharks supporters are full of doom and gloom after a nightmarish sequence of four consecutive defeats, two of them by big margins.
The Stormers might have experienced last week in Bloemfontein how this competition can bite you if you are complacent, for every team is capable of an upset on its day if the opposition side is a bit off its game.
However, Gold has reasons for believing the Hurricanes won’t have any element of over-confidence on Saturday and will instead show the ruthlessness of the predatory fish his own team is named after.
"There won’t be any complacency if you consider how tightly-fought the New Zealand conference is, they would be silly to even remotely take the foot off the gas," said Gold from his team’s base on New Zealand’s north island.
"They’re going to play a team low on confidence, whose form has been particularly poor and they’re going to see that as blood in the water.
"We realise that the season is probably getting away from us and from our point of view, it’s a matter of playing pride and week after week showing our supporters that this jersey matters to us."
A man who used to talk a lot to the Sharks players about how much the jersey should mean to them is their former coach John Plumtree, who will this time be plotting against the Durbanites. Gold is aware of what that could mean.
"We understand what this weekend is going to bring, there’s a bit personal element involved.
"I am a good friend of ‘Plum’ but it doesn’t help us that he knows the intricacies of nearly all of our players."
Gold knows that his team could be in for another embarrassing hiding if they don’t make a massive attempt to eliminate the errors that the Highlanders feasted on last weekend.
"It was obviously a very disappointing game for us on the weekend, for all involved, and certainly not the result we expected.
"We made a very good team look outstanding by making so many errors. We counted about 15 times we lost the ball, coughed up possession at critical times and against a team with a backline like theirs, they will hurt you if you do that.
"We saw it in the early exchanges where we made one mistake and they ran the length of the field to score their first try.
"We have a new challenge this weekend and the guys have worked particularly hard around the error rate.”
Gold confirmed that mercurial utility back Frans Steyn will be back in the selection mix after completing his suspension handed down for a tip tackle executed against the Chiefs six weeks ago.
"It is exciting to have guys like Frans, Jannie du Plessis and Renaldo Bothma back in the mix this week and it is important that we focus on those positives," said Gold.
However, since last week the Sharks have lost the services of energetic scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, who was forced to fly home after fracturing a bone in his arm.
"It’s cruel how sport is – when things are bad they’re particularly bad.
"We’ve had an injury crisis but it is an opportunity for young guys to step up to the plate.
"We have some big challenges ahead of us but other teams have also been in positions like the one we find ourselves in at the moment and have come out stronger," said Gold.