Johannesburg – John Plumtree is to take an indefinite break from rugby during the forthcoming Currie Cup, the Sharks coach announced on Tuesday.
The 47-year-old did not specify the length of the rest period or exactly when it will happen, although he did confirm he will be at the helm for the start of their campaign, which begins against Western Province in Cape Town on Saturday.
Assistant coaches Grant Bashford and Hugh Reece-Edwards will take charge of playing affairs during his absence and will be aided by commercial manager Rudolf Straeuli.
“There’ll be a point in this competition I’ll be taking a break from rugby,” Plumtree said. “It will come in the next couple of weeks.
“Everything will carry on as usual, I will be around, but other senior coaches will take charge of the team.”
The Sharks boss said he needed some time off after the conclusion of their Super Rugby campaign, which ended with a heavy 37-6 loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.
“It is a resting period,” Plumtree explained. “The senior coaches have obviously been coaching here for a long time at a high level, so they will look after the team.”
The Sharks arrived back in Durban late on Sunday following a hefty three-week Super Rugby trip, which took in two return trips to Australasia and a visit to Cape Town sandwiched in between.
It all ended in heartbreak, though, after a one-sided final in New Zealand and Plumtree said: “We’re obviously disappointed, but I was also very proud of the team.
“There’s a lot to look forward to in the future with these players.
We’re just going to look forward to this Currie Cup now. It was a fairly emotional time for all of us, but it’s in the past now.”
The coastal team has to quickly pick up the pieces and prepare for the start of their domestic campaign, which kicks off with a clash against Western Province at Newlands on Saturday. It will be almost an entirely different team for that clash following Springbok call-ups and injuries.
Ten Sharks were called up for national duty in the Rugby Championship, although winger JP Pietersen has since withdrawn due to injury.
Another Bok Ryan Kankowski has left the union, along with France international Frederic Michalak.
Looking ahead to the Currie Cup, he added: “We have a proud tradition in the competition reaching three of the last four finals.” – Sapa