Plumtree back at Shark Tank
ALL Black wing Cory Jane paid tribute to John Plumtree, the former Sharks coach, after the Hurricanes’ stunning 50-17 Super Rugby weekend win over the Lions at Ellis Park.
Plumtree, who was the Sharks head coach from 2008-13, is now in charge of the Hurricanes forwards but he also takes responsibility for the defence and Jane said his input had been crucial to the win.
“Plum gave the team a kick up the bum after we lost to the Chiefs [by one point in their previous game],” said Jane.
Head coach Chris Boyd agreed that the improvement in defence had been decisive.
“The area that we were very unhappy about in the Chiefs game was the sting in our defence and we put a lot of emphasis on our line speed and our physicality. The Lions have got a lot of big ball-runners so we thought the best way to combat that was to attack the ball at source and slow it down and we were able to do both of those. We were particularly happy with that.”
Both Plumtree and Boyd will be returning to a favourite stamping ground in Durban.
Boyd was the Sharks’ assistant coach under first Dick Muir and then Plumtree at King’s Park from 2006-08. Plumtree’s ties with the Sharks, first as a player and then as coach, stretched over two decades until he was forced to up sticks and leave Durban with his family in 2013.
While he was considered surplus to requirements at King’s Park, there has been a strong demand for his services elsewhere in the rugby world.
After leaving Durban in 2013, he was immediately signed by Six Nations champions Ireland as their forward coach. In 2015 he returned to New Zealand, joining close friend Boyd at the Hurricanes.
Last June he was approached by the Stormers to take over from Allister Coetzee as head coach and late in the year he was linked to the Springbok job after Heyneke Meyer’s resignation.
The latest approach to Plumtree came last month with the Highlanders wanting him to take over from Jamie Joseph who leaves for Japan at the end of the season. Plumtree again turned down the offer:
“My family consider Wellington to be our home and the Hurricanes are a team who are close to my heart,” he said.
Three years ago, having to seek his fortune elsewhere, he said much the same about leaving Durban and the Sharks.
The Hurricanes are now in Durban, having made the short weekend trip from Johannesburg while the Sharks were slogging back from New Plymouth in New Zealand.
The New Zealanders have just one injury concern with All Black backrower Victor Vito nursing a nasty facial cut.
The Sharks are still assessing a number of their players on their return home but there are high hopes that Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie, who will rejoin the squad at training this week after an extended injury break, will be cleared to at least play off the bench against the Hurricanes.
Saturday’s match kicks off at 3 pm.