John Plumtree: Sharks must aspire to be like Stormers

Coach John Plumtree wants to see consistency on and off the field at the Sharks. Picture: Bryan Keane / INPHO / Shutterstock via BackpagePix

Coach John Plumtree wants to see consistency on and off the field at the Sharks. Picture: Bryan Keane / INPHO / Shutterstock via BackpagePix

Published Dec 29, 2023


The Sharks are looking for consistency, and therefore coach John Plumtree will be selecting his strongest available squads for the foreseeable matches – starting with the United Rugby Championship coastal derby against the Stormers on saturday night.

It’s been a tricky start to a second coaching spell for Plumtree in Durban, and although he agrees that one win over the Cape side won’t mean he’s turned the ship of the franchise around, it will go a long way in building confidence for the rest of the season.

But he also acknowledged they will be up against a Stormers side brimming with confidence after good wins over La Rochelle in the Champions Cup and the Bulls in the URC recently.

According to Plumtree, they will be up against it at the Cape Town Stadium (7pm kick-off), but they are preparing for a tough battle.

And even though the Sharks had some time off to rest and recover following their 29-32 Challenge Cup defeat to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on December 17, the Sharks are still battling with a long injury list among their forwards.

But they should be able to field a strong backline full of Springboks this weekend, including the likes of Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi and Grant Williams to try and upset the home side.

“This is an opportunity... we are underdogs,” said Plumtree.

“So are most teams that go to Cape Town. That fuels them (the Stormers), it makes them better. That is what quality teams are made up of: ‘You come to our town, you are not going to beat us in our stadium’. We saw that with the Crusaders and Bulls of old.

“It is an opportunity (for a win), but we also know one swallow does not make a summer. We are going to have to look for more than one win to say that I’ve turned the Sharks around.

“It’s not going to be that easy. It is about being able to come up with that consistency on and off the field, building a spirit amongst the group.”

That is most probably what sets the Stormers apart from the local franchises currently. They were able to find that balance, consistency, and togetherness over the space of a couple of seasons.

According to Plumtree, that is something that does not just come about quickly.

But he also said the Stormers haven’t been perfect this year. This could be the little motivation the Sharks need ahead of the clash to bring an end to the dominance John Dobson’s men have enjoyed over their South African counterparts.

“The Stormers have built something that most teams envy. The boys click down there. They play for each other and appear to have a great team spirit. Their leaders lead. They have physicality and some outstanding backs. They have a game-plan that they believe in,” former All Black assistant coach Plumtree said.

“They fight for 80 minutes. We saw that in the La Rochelle game. They had a bit of luck, and I thought they closed out the game very well. They got a penalty, kicked the ball out in the corner, and scored from the lineout, and kicked the conversion from the sideline.

“Four minutes before that, they were dead and buried. It just shows what kind of group they have. That is where we want to aspire to, to be that.

“For us, it’s nice that we can see that, and we have to face it. But we have to take up the challenge and say bring it on and see what happens.”