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Sharks: Plumtree's job safe

2010-03-04 15:36
John Plumtree (File)
Gavin Rich

Durban - The Sharks bosses have refuted the rumours that coach John Plumtree is about to lose his job, and have instead confirmed the counter rumour that has been doing the rounds in Durban that the opposite is true.

It is true, as both factions of the rumour mill have said, that Plumtree went in to see Sharks chief executive Brian van Zyl before his team left for Australia two weeks ago. But it is not true that Plumtree was read the riot act and told that if he did not return from the five-match overseas tour with any wins he would be shown the door.

Instead, Plumtree was offered a three-year extension to his contract, something that should be seen as good news to those who have worked with Plumtree and know just what a good coach he really is.

By offering Plumtree an extension, the board of the Sharks Rugby Union appear to be acknowledging that the real fault for the current failures lies with the players, who have not played like a unit since the Springboks returned from Tri-Nations duty at a time when the Sharks, without their stars, were topping the Currie Cup log last September.

The Pietermaritzburg newspaper, The Witness, reported on Thursday that Van Zyl has fully endorsed Plumtree and scotched any suggestion that the coach might be facing the axe.

“The Sharks board have agreed to extend the contract by three years and we would not have done that if we did not have every faith in him as a coach,” said Van Zyl.

“Plum only has to agree to the terms now but we obviously want him to stay. A good coach does not become a bad coach overnight.”

Van Zyl said a similar thing in January when New Zealand newspapers reported that Plumtree was fishing for a job with the Hurricanes, who are changing their coach at the end of the season. He said a deal would be negotiated with Plumtree to keep him in Durban, the home city of his wife’s family and where he has appeared very settled and happy over the past three years.

Subsequent to that, the Hurricanes have announced that Marc Hammett will be coaching them in 2011.

There has been some uncertainty around the Sharks camp over Plumtree’s future plans. He is a widely travelled coach, who coached for several years in Britain after finishing his playing career in Durban and then coached Wellington in the NPC. It is understood he may want to take a sabbatical during the coming Currie Cup season. But the Sharks administrators do seem adamant that they want the man who took them to their first Currie Cup title in 12 years in 2008 to stay on.

Van Zyl also told the Witness that there was no substance to the widespread rumours of a rift within the Sharks team.

“These are the types of rumours that surface when a team is losing but I have spoken to Plum and he assures me there is no unhappiness in the team and everyone is focused on turning the season around,” said Van Zyl.

The big question does remain, however - what has happened to the Sharks since Plumtree had the no-name brand version of the franchise sitting comfortably at the top of the Currie Cup log last September?


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