Vodacom Super Rugby
Sharks not taking Kings lightly
John Plumtree (Gallo Images)
Durban - Sharks coach John Plumtree is confident there will be no complacency from his side when they face the Kings in their South African derby clash on Saturday.
The coastal teams square off at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, with the hosts aiming to build on their impressive induction to Super Rugby after beating the Force in Port Elizabeth two weeks ago.
The Eastern Cape franchise, who had a bye last week, won their debut match 22-10 against the Australian side and Plumtree was not expecting an easy ride this week.
“If your feet come off the ground and your head is in the clouds then this competition just bites you,” Plumtree said.
“We’ve seen that with us and other teams in the past, so we’ve just got to regroup and prepare for the next contest.
“It’s up to the players to understand that they’ve let themselves down in the past and we’ve got to respect everyone we come up against, because when you don’t, that’s when you get hit.
“You’ve got to remain focussed, forget about the past and focus on the future.”
Plumtree’s side have made an impressive start to the competition by winning their opening two fixtures, against the Cheetahs and Stormers, to settle in second place in the local conference standings and fifth overall.
The Sharks boss admitted those two derby matches had set them up nicely as they plotted the way forward.
“We’ve had two big games and the boys are feeling battle-hardened,” he said.
However, he warned there was still plenty of improvement to come from his team.
“We’re not entirely happy with where we are from an attacking perspective. Obviously our defence is coming on and I’m really happy with our kicking game.
“We’re not there yet with attack and we’re taking our time in that area, but that will grow and just get better. We’ll work really had on it this week.”
Despite winning their first two games, Plumtree highlighted the importance of maintaining their standards.
Last season they began the competition with successive defeats but still managed to reach the final.
“We always feel that pressure to win because you want to win all your games.
“It doesn’t really happen in Super Rugby, but we just want to make sure we talk about and maintain our standards.
“If your standards are low, then you’ll perform low, but if they're high, then you’ll perform high.”
The Sharks are still without several of their frontline players like captain Keegan Daniel, Bismarck du Plessis and Willem Alberts, although there were no fresh injuries reported on Tuesday despite the bruising win over the Stormers.
15 SP Marais, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 Steven Sykes 4 Darron Nell (captain), 3 Kevin Buys , 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jaco Engels, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Luke Watson, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Hadleigh Parkes