John Plumtree a worried man
Johannesburg - Sharks coach John Plumtree has warned his team they will need to improve if they are to progress further in the Super Rugby competition.
The Durban franchise stand on the verge of playoff qualification and could seal their place in the top six if they beat the Lions in Johannesburg this week and results elsewhere work in their favour.
But the coach is worried about the way his side had been playing, despite heading to the Highveld with back-to-back wins over the Waratahs and Cheetahs in the last two weeks.
"We're concerned that we are not playing well enough to do well in this competition, that's a genuine concern," said Plumtree.
"There are some basic principles of the game that we're just not achieving.
"We're playing too much rugby behind the advantage line and in the wrong areas of the field."
The coach added that they adapted their strategies on attack.
"But it's really about getting tactical savvy and it's about players wanting to achieve," he said.
"Carrying the ball across the advantage line is a big part of the game and we haven't been doing that well enough lately."
One of the key problem areas had been attack, where Plumtree felt there were a string of little things that urgently needed to be fixed.
"There's a bit more desire, a bit more patience, making sure we work hard off the ball, you can look at urgency around the ball carrier in terms of support, so there's lots of different things that we're not doing well enough at the moment," said Plumtree.
Plumtree cautioned against any complacency against a Lions side clearly in the ascendancy following away wins over the Highlanders and Brumbies in recent weeks.
"I think being away from South Africa has helped them because they're away from a lot of their critics, which is always a good thing," he said.
"Butch (James) coming in has helped them with their flow and they look dangerous with their rhythm and their backs now.
"They've also worked out what their best starting XV is and those guys are consistently being picked."
He said the Lions' two wins on tour would have given the Johannesburg side some confidence.
"So they'll be pretty keen to finish their campaign on a high," said the coach.
Willem Alberts is a major injury concern after going off with a shoulder injury during the closing stages against the Cheetahs.
He faces a late fitness test along with prop Jannie du Plessis (knee), but Odwa Ndungane (hand) and Jean Deysel (suspension) are definitely out.