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Plumtree :Sharks are stronger now than in the past

Sharks coach John Plumtree hopes the Sharks can go one stage further this season

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Article Published: Tuesday 17 July 2012|

Sharks coach John Plumtree believes that his Rugby Union have made huge strides in recent years and says that they are in better shape now than in the past.

Plumtree's Sharks face the defending champion Reds in Queensland on Saturday and Plumtree hopes to take his team at least one stage further than last year when there were knocked out in the first round of play offs.

The Sharks missed out on the four team play offs in 2009 and 2010 and in 2008 they were beaten in the first round by the Waratahs.

Five years ago in 2007 the Sharks reached the Super Rugby final but were beaten at the death by the Bulls.

Domestically the Sharks have reached three of the last four Currie Cup finals winning two along the way.

"We've made the top six and the plus for me is we've also developed some really nice juniors," Plumtree said.

"You look at Paul Jordaan, Piet-Steph (du Toit), Marcell (Coetzee), the way he's come through this year.

"So I think we're in better shape than we've been in the past and we're still managing to chase finals.

"I mean three Currie Cup finals in four years and the play-offs again, which is really good news. The stuff up, I guess, is we have to travel, but that's what we have to do."

Last year, the Sharks also had to travel at this stage of the competition, although it was arguably the much tougher proposition of Nelson where they were crushed by seven-time winners, the Crusaders.

They looked on course to avoid travelling this season when they went on a four-match winning streak prior to the June international break, but their sequence was ended by a shock loss at the Lions.

"Every side's got their own stories, people saying 'you shouldn't have lost that game and you wouldn't have been in that position'," he said.

"Everyone talks about how the Lions game hurt us in terms of travelling, and that's rightly so, but the Waratahs game was also very frustrating.

"We were up 26-13 or something, dominating and we lost that game. There's only one side that we really had a hiding from this year and that was the Hurricanes.

"The rest have all been close, we managed to score tries and lost by a few points.

"We were close against the Stormers and Bulls away and we beat both those teams here. We can beat anyone on the day, but we can also lose to anyone."

The Sharks' progress from sixth-place also meant that three South African teams had made the top six -- overall log winners the Stormers, who will host the final if the win their semi-final next week, and the Bulls.

"It's outstanding," Plumtree added on the accolade. "That's a real achievement in itself."

"It just shows you the depth in this country - I'm sure Heyneke Meyer is really pleased about that. All three teams are gaining great experience at the top level, which is excellent."

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