Plumtree: Mental strength key

2011-06-07 10:45

Gavin Rich - SuperSport

Johannesburg - Sharks coach John Plumtree has long ago given up caring about how his team gets over the line – all he cares about now is that they get across the line.

So it wasn’t surprising that he arrived back in Durban after the 23-18 win over the Cheetahs that puts his team in fifth position on the overall Super Rugby log and within touching distance of a place in the playoffs happy with the way that his team had won what he called “a scrap”.

Plumtree has long referred to this year’s competition, with its extended format, as a test of staying power and endurance rather than necessarily a team’s class and ability, and he feels that his view has been vindicated now that the tournament has reached its last weeks of the league phase.

“A lot of it will now be down to mental strength,” said Plumtree.

“The last two weekends have been packed with upsets and I reckon that is because concentration is now waning. Teams have been fronting up week after week for a long time now and eventually it takes a toll. An example was the Reds at the weekend not being up mentally for the visit by the Brumbies and they ended up getting beaten.”

The Sharks play the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday in a clash which could easily be termed “the friendly war” were it not for the fact that the Sharks are now getting themselves to a point where they are rediscovering their old penchant for getting in first with the physicality aspect, which was certainly noticeable on the televised recording of the Bloemfontein game.

So Butch James, an old Shark and long-time friend of Sharks captain John Smit, won’t be expecting any favours from his old mates as the Durbanites do everything they possibly can to assure themselves of the much needed win. Neither of course will John Mitchell expect any favours from his old friend Plumtree.

For Plumtree, it is all about keeping focus and concentration and not taking anything for granted. He said last week that winning two out of three of the remaining matches should book a place in the play-offs, and with 51 points from their 14 matches, the Sharks are now just two points away from the magical 53 that was said to guarantee a top six position.

So the Lions game should clinch the Sharks their spot in the playoffs if they win it, and that is incentive enough.

“The Lions have travelled a long way to get back here from New Zealand but that hardly means it is a given that we will beat them,” said the coach.

“Everyone needs to carry on working hard. That is the beauty and challenge of this competition – it is so mentally challenging that nothing can be taken for granted.”

The good news for the Sharks is that they returned from the bruising match in Bloemfontein without any further injury problems and with the exception of Jannie du Plessis and Odwa Ndungane, Plumtree will have a full squad to choose from for Saturday’s match.


  • !!Vrystaat!! - 2011-06-07 11:03

    Hope you have enough money left over for the ref. Will laugh my hart out if you have a fair ref and loose against the Lions.

      Sarge - 2011-06-07 11:09

      Get over it man, the best team won!

      Devon - 2011-06-07 11:12

      Here's a tissue so you can have a good cry!!!!

      terry - 2011-06-07 11:12

      @Vrystaat - ref's (and the touch judges) will always play a significant role in who wins or loses a game, particularly when the game is close (ask the Waratahs after their game against the Bulls last weekend). The Sharks have been at the receiving end of numerous poor refereeing displays in the past - including games against the Cheetahs. If the refereeing in this game went went the way of the Sharks - it is just a case of swings and roundabouts. Learn to deal with it - and move on!

      !!Vrystaat!! - 2011-06-07 11:16

      @Sarge - wont really say it and believe it. If even the main boss of ref's say.. hmm maybe it was not that good but at least the ref is not really pathetic.. well. it kinda's does not go into your plus side as the best team.

      !!Vrystaat!! - 2011-06-07 11:18

      @terry - if it was just 1 or 2 wrong ones. Yes sure. but come on. have you seen the game ? Have you seen the comments from the head ref ? I am more than willing to accept defeat like the bulls who won us. But this is beyond something to be proud of for any supporter of rugby.

      Sarge - 2011-06-07 11:24

      "Watson meen verkeerde beslissings het die Cheetahs, sowel as die Sharks, benadeel." Ek stem saam die beslisings was nie "on song" nie maar die cheetahs kon nie eers teen 13 spelers iets reg kry ni. So die beste span het gewen.

      Lloyd - 2011-06-07 11:27

      Ek stem saam met jou Vrystaat. Dit was n absolute skande gewees. Go Lions!!!

      sparkster - 2011-06-07 11:37

      Vrystaat, even with a bad ref i think you guys will still take it by 20 points.

      sparkster - 2011-06-07 11:39

      Mental Strength Key....that applies to Lloyd perfectly, as he has no other strength

      Oukoos - 2011-06-07 11:41

      Ja ou Vrystaat, en wat van die keer wat die Vrystaat 'n kaalgatholler gebruik het om die WP vleuel op pad doellyn toe te duik? En die einste kaalgatholler was die volgende naweek 'n eregas van die Vrystaatse rugbyuunie. Ja ons almal weet die ref het julle laas Saterdag lelik bedonner. Maar ek het elke oomblik van die bedonnering beie geniet.

      Rob - 2011-06-07 11:46

      Cry me river. Sharks have been robbed MANY times. Get over it! Nature of the game.

      Oukoos - 2011-06-07 11:47

      Regstelling, dit was nie 'n vleuel nie, dit was die flank, Hendrik Gerber wat uitgeduik was

      Eugene.Ackerman - 2011-06-07 11:54

      !!Vrystaat!! – Genoeg man!!! Dis oor en gedaan!!! Is jy 7jaar oud? Kom nou oor jou kak, daar is niks wat nou gedoen kan word nie.

      !!Vrystaat!! - 2011-06-07 12:33

      @Eugene - Ja jong maklik hoe jy jouself kan probeer volwasse hou tot die borde anders hang. Feit is ek kan nie glo mense kan glo trots wees op so iets en nog probeer se dit het met hulle in verlede gebeur nie. maar ja.. ek het my se gehad. Jy kan maar nou met jou karretjies in die sand gaan speel hoor.

      Oukoos - 2011-06-07 12:38

      @Vrystaat, net so trots soos die Vrystaat rugbyunie destyds was dat 'n kaalgatholler hulle van 'n nederlaag gered het - maar so draai die wiel!

      Raka13 - 2011-06-07 12:48

      Oukoos, ek onthou dit, die ou het net rugby sokkies aangehad. Hy het vir FC Smit ge-tackle voor die doelyn. Ha HA HA, is eintlik snaaks nou dat ek weer daaraan dink.

      Willem - 2011-06-07 13:26

      @Raka en Oukoos - Dis reg dit was FC Smit, toe ek jou kommentaar lees, bars ek sommer uit van die lag (Ha, Ha, Ha,Ha), ek onthou FC Smit se gesiguitdrukking, hy kon nie glo nie wat met hom gebeur nie, baie snaaks!

      Martin - 2011-06-07 14:31

      Sharks got the rub of the green, about time - there will always be fans bitching about ref calls, been there done that got the bloody t-shirt but it doesn't change the result so stop bitching and live to laugh another day.

      Kevin - 2011-06-07 14:38

      We leave that for the Bulls in the final playoffs for the last 6 places in the Super 15

      Tyrone - 2011-06-07 14:57

      2 years ago pro legoete came on at half time to cheat the sharks and blow them out of the game , handing the match to the cheetahs whilst they were being whipped by the Sharks , why were you not crying foul then?? get a life dude , go to

  • Sheriffff - 2011-06-07 11:07

    Come on boys, step up a gear and show your metal

  • stormloop - 2011-06-07 11:21

    you cant buy mental strenght plumtree. sharks checkbook is not big enough for that. how about developing your own decent talent and leave the cheetahs alone. maybe then you will see some players playing for the province rather than themselfs. i know most of the readers will come with "its a profesional game now " blablablabla. fact remains the sharks are brittle when they under presure.

      Philip - 2011-06-07 11:44

      stormloop... hmmm, must be a stormer with a fascinatingly big chequebook who criticizes the sharks for the professional area and blablabla that you are referring to. Fact is, the Stormers have when last showed a trophy? For all that loot they threw around. Wow, now if the Sharks had THAT chequebook, can you imagine how unstoppable we would then be. Not that we would buy any Stormers rejects though...

      GraemeBB - 2011-06-07 11:58

      @Phillip - but the Sharks have bought and bought and bought - what do you mean??

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-06-07 12:19

      @Philip - ummmmmmmm, Stormers rejects you have on your books currently" Ross Skeate, Conrad Hoffman, even Charl MaCleod played here.....tsk tsk. This is the professional era, and players go where they are given opportunities (nothing wrong with that at all) BUT: to make a silly statement like you have......and then be proved wrong is just doff.

      Grant - 2011-06-07 12:38

      Yeah Stormloop we were VERY brittle under the pressure of the CC final last year werent we? Talk about a chequebook, do the names Brian Habana, Jaque Fourie, Peter Grant, Lionel Cronje, Tiaan Liebenberg, CJ Van der Linde, Ricky January, Conrad Jantjes (should I continue??) sound familiar? All came there to WP with the chequebook!

      Raka13 - 2011-06-07 12:49

      Philip, who are you and what are you doing on this site? Gaan weg, jy pla!

      sparkster - 2011-06-07 13:56 you saying the Sharks set up is up to crap.The trophy's will come to WP just like they did in the 80's.And yes im allowed to go back into the past as that is all the Bulls can do at this moment.You people forget one thing the Dr said "If Maties rugby is not doing well then WP will not do well and if WP rugby is not doing well then the Boks will not do well"

      Grant - 2011-06-07 14:22

      I hear what you are saying Sparkster but as for if WP arent doing well then neither are the Bokke....remind me how many WP players were in the 2007 World Cup winning team?

      Lloyd - 2011-06-07 15:54

      Grant, there was a time not long ago when there were only 2 WP players in the Bok team. It was de Villiers and Burger. Then we won a world cup. All of a sudden the team was riddled with them, hence the latest results.

      Kudubul - 2011-06-07 16:03

      @sparkster aa just get over yourself man " if the maties is not doing well" pffff.

  • Dal2000 - 2011-06-07 11:26

    Number 12 and 13 also key...

  • GraemeBB - 2011-06-07 11:27

    The Sharks are hoping to win this weekend, and hoping the Bulls lose. I dont think they will be able to beat the Bulls at Loftus. So, the Sharks need to win!! With the Lions, one cant see the Sharks losing. The Lions are just too weak to on the average day.

      Kevin - 2011-06-07 14:41

      The Sharks will win this week and next week. That will be the end of the Bulls S15 campaign

  • Lloyd - 2011-06-07 11:28


      Sarge - 2011-06-07 12:29


      Raka13 - 2011-06-07 12:51

      Choke jy Lloyd? Jy moenie wolf skree nie!

      sparkster - 2011-06-07 13:56 ok Lloyd.Dont let Alwyn keep it in to long!!

  • Grunk - 2011-06-07 11:43

    I think the major strength Plumtree should worry about is John Smit. He's proved over the last two weeks he hasn't got enough strength to be a No1 as the Sharks only started to dominate when he came off the field; when he is used at No 2 you may as well call him "Pop up" because his head comes out so regularly; which then leaves the question of whether he can show any mettle at No 3.

  • Marcell - 2011-06-07 11:50

    BMT : Bulls Mental Toughness. Iets waarvan die sardienes en stompies net kan droom.

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-06-07 12:21

      This BMT that supposedly only the Bulls have that wins games for them, does it stand for Blatantly Mad Touchjudges? Like Pro, who gifted you chaps a win? Please correct me if I am wrong Marcell...but Blatantly Mad Touchjudges DO seem to give you the chaps the edge.

      Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-06-07 12:53

      Richie's total disregard for the laws also caught up with him recently. Now refs ( read Dickinson ) go out of their way to ping him. How not to treat a ref...

      Raka13 - 2011-06-07 13:02

      Marcell, "Bulls Mental Toughness" jy's reg, bees-kop en afval is taai.

      Oukoos - 2011-06-07 14:35

      Stem saam. DIt is waarom die Bulls die 2010 Currie Cup kampioen is.

      Oukoos - 2011-06-07 14:39

      Jammer, ek moet gedrink wees. Die Bulls was mos verlede jaar in die halfeindstryd verneitig deur die Sharks. Dit was waarskynlik te wyte aan KSD (k*K Skrik Sindroom)

  • Anneleen - 2011-06-07 11:53

    The Sharks do not need to "buy" any favours from the referees...Sharks forever!!!

      GraemeBB - 2011-06-07 11:55

      After last weekend, I beg to differ!

      rugby_guru - 2011-06-07 12:02

      Come now GraemeBB you guys just bought the tars game, a head but? PLEASE! again, you either have 16 men with the ref, this time you have 17 men (refs) + -1 player of the Tars and you still nearly got your asses handed to you.. End of the day, its the bulls that has disgraced the country by all their drama, if you want I can list all the scandal the bulls players provide the media, and trust me it doesn't look good from the outside, its a disgrace and shameful way and whats worse if the players call themself christians *spit*

      Anneleen - 2011-06-07 12:18

      ...Sharks do not need to buy points either...or loyal fan support...

      Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-06-07 12:19

      Bulls captains ( Victor and Fourie ) could learn a lot from great captains like John Smit on ref mgmt. Please, stop screaming at the ref!

      rugby_guru - 2011-06-07 12:22

      Rob 100% that is the problem the smurfs are so used to buying their way, that matfield is a disgrace to the ref, he turns his back on them and shouts at them, he even has the nerve to walk away, trust me this is going into the books, now what does it do for SA rugby, we head on tour and what happens matfield opens his trap and then all hell breaks lose.. he is disrespectful and a disgrace to the game.

      Anneleen - 2011-06-07 12:36's to John Smit...a gentleman...

      rugby_guru - 2011-06-07 12:49

      Anneleen I'll lift a glass to that!!!

      Anneleen - 2011-06-07 12:56

      @rugby_guru...yes, indeed...a glass, with a Sharks emblem on it!

      GraemeBB - 2011-06-07 13:41

      @Guru - in all honesty, I must say the Sharks had the benefit in that match. BUT, the Sharks didnt ask him to make wierd calls. And, in the end, it is the score that matters!! It wasnt a headbutt. I said it before, O'Connor rammed his head into the ruck, and probably into a players face. I look at the video evidence, and you know what I saw.......nothing, nothing to prove Pro was wrong iether. I also saw a player pleading, dont give me a red card, not that he didnt do it. And Guru - how many people have died in the name of Christianity? But, truth be told, we like our players to be physical, but not dirty - you, me, SAFFA - we all like hard players.

      rugby_guru - 2011-06-07 13:55

      Graeme, I hate what you do to me, cause me to become humble... lol... but yes the truth be said, WE can't blame our teams on the coaching mistakes.. And yes maybe if the head but never happend and the red card wasn't awarded the Tars could have won, but maybe just maybe in that same time the play carried on in that 'space time' and the Bulls went on to score a quick try under the polls that would have changed the outcome of the game once again.. The same is true about the Sharks game, yes we had calls that went in our favour, no doubt, but maybe if those calls never went in our favour the whole game could have changed and the Cheetahs could have won or we could have opened up play on some other part of the field that could have linked to another try, etc... So end of the day just because a few calls are made against a side does not mean we can determine the outcome... Just like 2007 when the Bulls beat the Sharks in the final, some bad calls where made against the sharks but the same was made against the Bulls a few minutes earlier.. End of the day, its your name on the trophy and its our teams name on the win last weekend... In all honestly what gets my back up is all the complaints against the refs, yes some guys don't always blow the best game, but its so much easier looking from a TV screen as aposed to infront of guys the size of Spies, Matfied, Bakkies, Beast, Smit, etc.. Sometimes you do make a wrong call... But I like to still think the refing is fair...

      rugby_guru - 2011-06-07 13:57

      Err refereeing mistakes... I still feel that they cannot see everything, I have watched a few wins decisions that SA have had in some big matches that went on to lead to a WC win, if however those mistakes where not made, we might not have made it (just saying, who knows) so the end of the day, when its your team on the wrong end of the stick its moans and complaints however when you up that day (by the same ref you gave a mouth full too a few weeks back) then its all ok...

      rugby_guru - 2011-06-07 13:59

      In all honesty guys where WAY to strong for Rebels (thats the truth) but how many bad calls went against them? It takes a 'big team' to be able to stay strong when everything goes against them on the day... But in the same breath I have seen some nasty calls on the Bulls match on tour, not sure how it would have changed the game, but the truth be said, its always going to be that way...

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-06-07 14:21

      @GraemeBB and Guru - Graeme you are correct and spot-on RE: liking the 'rough and tough' players. The physicality and controlled aggression in rugby, is what separates it from EVERY other sport in the world (ok, not MMA...but that ain't a team sport) If rugby ever lost it's brutal physical presence, I would rather watch badminton. I doubt ANY of us condone blatant filthy play though...(intent to harm).

  • kurtvs - 2011-06-07 12:42

    You probably meant Ref Is Key.

  • C-Bass - 2011-06-07 14:02

    Ag shame... al die arme ou Cheetahs ondersteuners huil nou weer oor die feit dat die ref hulle die game gekos het. You win some you lose some... bou 'n brug en kom oor dit! Sharks forever! En go Stormers dan is die kans van 'n home semi / finaal beter vir twee SA spanne!

  • Anneleen - 2011-06-07 14:15

    ...and the Sharks did not ask for their 23 points...they worked very hard for that- thank you Mvovo, Pietersen and Lambie!

  • kosie - 2011-06-07 14:54

    no 3(blues) and 4 (crusaders) are playing one another, one will lose. that means if the sharks win with a bonus point this weekend we will be in 4th place after this round, cause we are only 2 points behind the saders and 3 behind the blues.

  • ZAPMAN - 2011-06-07 15:12

    Oukoos wys jou hoe min weet jy van rugby af FC Smit het nog nooit in sy lewe vleuel gespeel nie

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