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Confidence taken from first 2012 victory


Written by Maria Delport (Letgo)

Posted in :Lions, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 14 Mar 2012 at 09:37
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

I went to my first press conference on Tuesday afternoon. I know I should probably be all cool about it, but that just really doesn’t seem like me. I must say I was very nervous and excited, but mostly just nervous, I’m not that good in new situations, I need time to ease myself into my surroundings. So for the most part I just observed the whole event, except for one question, which after I asked it, I just kept hearing it repeat in my head and the notes I’ve been taking up to that point stopped, because my attempt to listen to the interviews, with my own voice repeating in my head, failed horribly and what I could make out after intense concentration to drown out the repeated mumbling in my head, could hardly be taken note of with my now shaking hand.

Fortunately I had a recorder with me, so at least I can convey to you what was said at my first press conference.

After last week’s win against the Lions the feeling in the camp seems to be one of growing confidence, both players present at the conference emphasized that the Lions were the team that thoroughly beat the Sharks in their previous encounter and that this win not only broke the dam wall because it was the first victory of the season, but it also got that Currie Cup final monkey off their back, where they didn’t play their best rugby and this match just proved again how good they can be if they start to play at their best level.

The team however admits that even though there are aspects of their game that have improved and that they are pleased with, especially in the backs where combinations are starting to gel, that there are still many aspects that they are looking to improve. Especially playing against a champion side like the Reds, you cannot afford to have up and down moments, because they will expose any weaknesses with their potent back line. Plumtree emphasized this by pointing out that at times on the weekend this allowed the Lions back into the game. “We can’t allow that.” said the coach. “After working really hard to get into a position to take the game to them and then just take the foot of the pedal and allow them back into the game is just putting stress on ourselves. We have to be more ruthless in that. Hopefully we’ll see a more complete performance on the weekend in terms of not going to sleep.”

Although the potent back line and “X-factor” players of the Reds were pointed out as the main threats, the team insists that this will not affect their preparations and that they will still be looking at their own game and focus on improving certain aspects of their game. “It’s going to have to be a good performance in all areas of our game to get this one.” said Plumtree. “The Reds have plenty of speed out wide and if they get real fast ball and we’re numbers down, they will hurt us, so defensively we have to be smart on the weekend. We have take it to them physically, make sure that we spend time with ball in hand and put them under pressure.”

“We’re playing a championship team” Bashford continued, “They may not even be completely happy with the way they are playing right now, but to manage to win when things aren’t going so well, like they did in their first game against the Waratahs just shows you what kind of belief this group has and even though they haven’t won here since 2002, that will just be a challenge for them to break that drought.”

As the main threat for this match was seen as the backs, Willem Alberts was asked what he thought the role of the forwards will be. I loved his answer: And I quote “When two teams meet, it’s the team with the best forwards that win the game.” . He continued to explain, but I like the bluntness of that one sentence.

He was also asked about his fitness and how he felt on the field, he said that as fair as confidence in the contact goes that he had his 60 minutes on the field and as far as he is concerned the ice is broken, and although match fitness will take some time, he feels good and that things will just get better and better from here on out.

Plumtree was asked how he feels about Dale Chadwick who is getting regular game time in his first Super Rugby campaign, the coach seemed pleased with not only the player’s performances on the field, where the scrums have been strong, with very few penalties and resets, but also very pleased with the player’s attitude off the field and thought that with the pressure of having to start every game and no backup to sub him, he has really stepped up and proved himself.

New signing Riaan Viljoen, who was also present, seems very happy to be with the Sharks and at the beach and playing in a bigger union with a bigger stadium. He said that he thought the Sharks let themselves down against the Stormers with discipline and felt that they should have won that match, but in the same breath said that it is never easy to go and try to get a win away from home against two tough and physical South African sides. So in the end they are happy with the two points and bonus point victory they got so far and are hoping to build on their campaign from here.

A few injury concerns were mentioned. Keegan Daniel went over on his ankle and Bismarck Du Plessis has a bruised knee, but the coach seemed confident that they both will be fine to play this weekend. Keegan was still very much in “cotton wool” with his injury, but Bismarck was at training yesterday and seemed fine and lively.

And now, for the show stopper. My question.

“Talking about penalties. I think the penalty rate have been a little high in the first few games, is that something you have addressed and looked at?”

“Yeah, we kept talking about it, but it keeps getting worse and now we’ve stopped talking about it. That’s our new motto. We stop talking about things and they’ll fix themselves. Like having a good marriage.”

Just for some colour. I’ll get better. I just need some press conference fitness!



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