Plumtree wary of Grant and Duvenage

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IOL pic july25 rugby sharks plumtree Gallo Images (File image) John Plumtree. Photo: Steve Haag

Johannesburg - Sharks coach John Plumtree says he is “impressed” by the consistency of Stormers halfback pairing Dewaldt Duvenage and Peter Grant - and he believes they’re among the most under-rated players in the country.

The Durban-based Sharks are preparing for their biggest game of the season on Saturday. They will take on their Cape Town rivals in an all-South African Super Rugby semi-final at Newlands on Saturday.

Grant and Duvenage have played an integral role for the Stormers this season, helping them top the overall competition standings with 14 wins from their 16 matches.

“Definitely Grant’s an under-rated player,” Plumtree said on Tuesday. “He is probably the most consistent 10 in the country.

“He’s not looked at by the national selectors, but him and Duvenage are both right up there.

“To get to this stage of the competition, a semi-final, with your number 9 and 10 not involved in the national set-up is probably unlike any country.”

Both have been on the fringes of Springbok selection at certain points during their careers, with Duvenage yet to win a cap.

Grant, on the other hand, has had five to his name - although the last of those came way back in 2008.

“If you look at the New Zealand semi-finalists, they have (Aaron) Cruden, Dan Carter, Andy Ellis, all international players,” Plumtree said.

“The Stormers are consistent in their performances with consistent players and that impresses me.”

The Sharks arrived back in their Durban late on Sunday night and did not train on Monday.

They only held light training on Tuesday morning following their round trip to Australia, where they recorded a memorable 30-17 playoff victory over the Reds in Brisbane to seal a spot in the last four.

They were greeted by the bad news that Springbok back Patrick Lambie, who was left behind to recuperate from a recurring ankle injury, might not be available for the Stormers clash.

Another player that faces a fitness race is junior Bok centre Paul Jordaan (hamstring).

“Patrick didn't train today,” Plumtree said. “He's doubtful, which is not good news for us, but Louis (Ludik) has been going really well at fullback.

“We’ll make a late call on Paul. He didn’t train today, but there’s definitely a little problem with his hamstring. It’s just a matter of whether we can get him right in time.”

The Sharks mentor conceded that his players were in good spirits ahead of the match, the second of the semi-finals, which will be played on Saturday.

On Friday, an all-New Zealand affair will be played out in Hamilton where the Chiefs are due to host the Crusaders. - Sapa


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