Currie Cup

Plumtree warns Sharks about Province’s X factor

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Sharks coach John Plumtree has warned his players that Western Province have the “X-factor” potential running throughout their team.

Plumtree says that his players will need to be at their best if they want to win the Currie Cup final in Durban on Saturday.

“I don’t think there’s any one area (they are not dangerous in),” Plumtree said.

“If you look at them, they’ve got a really big forward pack and they’ve got X-factor all over the park, some of them we’ve faced in 2010.

“So there’s no area that we’re specifically targeting.”

The 2011 finalists have been the most consistent South African team in 2012, reaching the Super Rugby final in August and then topping the league phase in the current competition.

They will be contesting their fourth Currie Cup final in five years and will be desperate to make amends after the heartbreak of losing to the Golden Lions last season.

“I know there’s a lot of talk about us being the favourites, big predictions and all of that,” Plumtree said.

“But among our team we know this is going to be a real final on the weekend, a real arm wrestle.

“It’s certainly not going to be any easier than it has been in the past.”

The final is a repeat of the 2010 showpiece that was won by the KwaZulu-Natal franchise.

Their Cape opponents have also had a good year — they were the best team during the league phase of Super Rugby, before eventually losing to the Sharks.

Plumtree was wary of the threat they posed ahead of the final at Kings Park, where rain is forecast for the match.

“We know if we don’t play well ourselves and our defence doesn’t function well as a group, then they can really hurt us,” he said.

“If you look at the Aplons, Habanas, Pietersens, there’s some really good players out there.”

While the Sharks booked their place in the final with a convincing 20-3 home victory over the Blue Bulls, Province claimed a last-gasp 21-16 away win over the Lions.

“They would definitely have taken confidence out of that,” added Plumtee, who named all his available Springboks for the clash.

Province coach Allister Coetzee will be aiming to end an 11-year wait for a trophy, with the Capetonians last claiming the title in 2001.

Coetzee has insisted during the build-up, though, that his side were the underdogs.

‘We are playing against the best side in South Africa,” Coetzee said.

‘The Sharks are an unbelievable team and the fact that they limited the Bulls to only three points is quite telling, so we are aware of the threat they pose.”

However, Coetzee, who sprung a surprise in the build-up by naming the inexperienced Damian de Allende at centre, was quietly confident of an upset win.

“We back ourselves to win,” he said. “It’s about getting the preparations spot-on and sticking to the game plan.

“The only thing that counts in a final is what happens on the day, so we see it as a 50/50 game.”

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