Daniel demands on-field focus
Durban - Captain Keegan Daniel admits the coachless Sharks will be desperate to put behind them a forgettable few weeks when they resume their Super Rugby season by taking on the Blues in Durban on Saturday.
After newly-appointed chief executive John Smit announced the union would not be renewing John Plumtree's contract at the end of the season, the New Zealander opted to cut his ties earlier this week.
“I’ve said to the team, we are here as rugby players and we need to focus on what our job is,” Daniel said.
“We can’t control what happens at the top, so it’s just about keeping the guys focussed and not allowing what’s happening off the field to influence us too much.”
Following Plumtree’s exit, it was announced assistant coaches Grant Bashford and Hugh-Reece Edwards would take charge of the team for their remaining three games, ahead of the arrival of director of rugby Brendan Venter.
Daniel said it was important for the team to play for Plumtree during the remaining games, which the Sharks must win with bonus points to have any chance of sneaking into the playoffs.
“Plum has been a great servant to Sharks rugby, right from the ‘90’s to now, and we want to give back to him as well,” Daniel said.
“He’s been exceptionally successful at the Sharks, not only as a player, but also as a coach."
The coastal team are lying 10th on the log with 38 points, five behind the Blues in eighth.
Their season has been beset by injuries, although three key players are back from lengthy periods on the sidelines -- Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis, who is on the bench, as well as starters Butch James and Louis Ludik.
“We are approaching this game as we would any other. We’ve got a big three weeks ahead of us and a lot to prove,” Daniel said.
“We just want to come together as a team and start playing like we know we can.”
He also warned the Blues would not be pushovers, despite their formidable record against the Aucklanders - they have not lost to them since 2005.
“The Blues have quite a bit of X-factor. If we are too loose and allow the ball to go to ground, they can attack from anywhere.
“They’ve had some good wins, but we need to focus on ourselves and go out there and play a great brand of rugby.”