With the Cell C Sharks sitting in 11th position on the Combined Log, after suffering 7 losses, the only thing left to play for is pride, as the play-offs seem an almost impossible dream.
The Sharks were humiliated by the Highlanders in their 1st game of their Australasian tour, with even the most faithful of supporters conceding that the season is effectively over.
It seems that Sharks boss Gary Gold is in agreement, stating that they are now only playing for pride and to try and win back some disgruntled fans.
“The issue for us is that this is a matter of pride, of massive pride,” Gold said.
“We’ve let a lot of people down, we’ve let a lot of supporters down – the expectations were high for this team.
“I’m not about to provide any excuses for what happened in our performance, it was sub-standard and whatever the reasons are, we’ll investigate that.
“I take responsibility for it, I’ve said that before, but the bottom line is that we have to fix it.
The Hurricanes could not have asked for a better start to the Super Rugby season, managing 6 wins from as many outings. They are in pole position on the combined standings and are expecting to improve even more as their rested players return.
“The boys are enjoying themselves because winning is way better than losing,” Hurricanes assistant coach John Plumtree told the NZME.
“But every week there’s something to fix and every week’s not perfect and we are looking to improve the whole time.”
Their defence has been the cornerstone of their success, with only 82 points being scored against them so far, 2nd to the Brumbies who have conceded a mere 80.
Their next challenge comes in the form of the Stormers who were beaten 39 / 21 by the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday. However Plumtree acknowledges the physical threat posed by the Cape outfit, boosted by their very own return of some key players.
“They’ll be hurting after what happened last week,” Plumtree said. “So we’ll be expecting them to respond pretty positively in terms of intensity.”
The Stormers may welcome back a couple of players, namely Duane Vermeulen, and Plumtree said they would bring the physicality associated with any South African team.
“We’ll have to really step up in the pack.”
The Hurricanes rested a number of All Blacks – Beauden Barrett, Ben Franks and Julian Savea – for last week’s game with the Melbourne Rebels but they will likely return this week. Hooker Dane Coles (elbow) also missed the win over the Rebels but is fit again.
John Plumtree coached the Cell C Sharks in six Absa Currie Cup campaigns, and in four of those they topped the log.
They didn’t always convert that advantage. In 2009 they finished top but got bombed by the Cheetahs in a Kings Park semifinal on a day that, Plumtree will probably agree now, he made a mistake by absorbing too many Springboks back into the starting team. The Boks had won a series against the British and Irish Lions that year, as well as the Tri-Nations.
They weren’t in the mood and didn’t have the energy for the Currie Cup.
Clark Laidlaw helped shore up the Hurricanes’ defence this season and he’ll get a chance to further improve the side under new coach Chris Boyd.
Laidlaw will join Boyd and his assistant John Plumtree in the third official appointment to the 2015 coaching staff.
The former Scottish Commonwealth Games sevens representative came to the Hurricanes via Taranaki in 2013 as an in-season skills coach before taking up the task of fixing the leaky defensive line this season.
Laidlaw had immediate success with the Hurricanes keeping their try line intact on two occasions, something they hadn’t managed over the opening three years of head coach Mark Hammett’s tenure, and also conceding fewer points per match than in the previous season.
Simon Easterby has been confirmed as Ireland’s new forwards coach.
The former Ireland captain will replace John Plumtree in head coach Joe Schmidt’s back-room set-up, with the New Zealander returning home for family reasons.
Easterby will assume his new role in October, in time for Ireland’s autumn international Guinness Series of Tests against South Africa, Georgia and Australia.
Chris Boyd and John Plumtree will reunite as Super Rugby coaches in 2015 – this time on home soil.
The pair, who coached the Durban-based Sharks together in 2009 and 2010, have today been announced as the new coaching duo to lead the Hurricanes into next year’s campaign.
Current Wellington Lions coach, Boyd, will take up the head coach role, with Plumtree as his assistant.
The Irish Rugby Football Union today announced the appointment of John Plumtree as Ireland forwards coach.
The Sharks confirmed that discussions were held today (Tuesday) between representatives of themselves and John Plumtree (‘the Parties’).
It was mutually and amicably agreed between the Parties to part ways with immediate effect.
There seems to be a lot happening at the Sharks, in front of and behind the scenes, prior to this weekend’s Super Rugby clash between the Sharks and the Blues.
Apparently John Smit said no to Jake White and Clive Woodward (Both World Cup winning coaches) but chose Brendan Venter in stead, read more below.
More news involving John Smit and outgoing coach John Plumtree suggests that the 2 are to meet to see if they can sort out diferences, the package John Plumtree is demanding and the immediate way forward, read more below too.
With Super Rugby back on the weekend, the speculation is also rife about who will play at flyhalf and in midfield, with a host of centres injured but with Butch James back. Will the flyhalf spot go to Butch or Patrick Lambie and will the other beselected at inside centre?
Former Saracens boss Brendan Venter will take up the position as Director of Rugby at the Sharks from the beginning of the Currie Cup season.
Nick Mallett has reportedly turned down an offer from the Sharks to take over the coaching reins from John Plumtree.
Sharks rugby seems to be in disarray as stories surface regarding issues within the Union and players! Now even though nothing has been confirmed officially, it does seem to make sense as to why the sudden problems the Sharks are having.
There were contrasting emotions going through the coaches’ minds following The Sharks’ 64-7 defeat of the Rebels at KINGS PARK in their Vodacom Super Rugby clash on Saturday evening.
Sharks coach John Plumtree says their improved play at set-pieces and ability to handle pressure better were key factors to overcoming the Stormers at Kings Park on Saturday.
Coach John Plumtree has opted for continuity and kept the exact same squad of 22 players for their encounter with the Stormers in Durban on Saturday. In the only change within that squad, strongman Jean Deysel will be starting this week with Jacques Botes moving to the bench.
The Sharks will take on the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign with arguably the strongest side available to them and will be captained by Francois Steyn.
Coach John Plumtree said that he had very tough decisions to make in naming the team and of course to find the right balance as some positions had atleast two players fighting it out for the jersey.
The Sharks are again being hampered by numerous injury setbacks before the Super Rugby season officially kicks off, no less than seven stars out for anything between 4 weeks and 8 weeks.
I was reading some Tweets this morning when I came across this article from Mark Keohane and I have to say a very well written one at that, about John Plumtree.
Now here I want to give my point of view – as I feel we all will in one form or another acknowledge (although I do not wish to add to what is already said in the article) and I feel the man has paid his dues, he has done everything that should be expected of him and more.
Springbok utility back Patrick Lambie’s unavailability for Currie Cup duty this week has left Sharks coach John Plumtree a frustrated man.
Springbok pair Patrick Lambie and Frans Steyn were the two notable absentees from the Sharks squad named on Sunday that will travel to Australia for next week’s Super Rugby qualifier against the Reds in Brisbane.
Regarding the last few weeks 2013 Super Rugby shenanigans, the GLRU have released the following statement.
Two from two and a bye next week for the Stormers, thats 12 points in the bag, and thats what counts. The Stormers used their ‘get out of jail free’ card this weekend, and between now and the Blues in 2 weeks, there’s a lot of work to be done.
For the Sharks it is 0 from 2 with 2 meagre bonus points.
Sharks coach, John Plumtree, has chosen his best available side to take on the Bulls on Friday night at Loftus Versveld at 19:10 in thier opener for Super Rugby 2012.
It’s being regarded as a trial and will be contested over four chukkas so no teams have been announced, but the Sharks’ pre-season clash with the Boland Cavaliers on Friday night will nonetheless provide some areas of intense focus for both coaches and spectators alike.