Steyn set for midfield role against ‘Canes


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John Plumtree had to smile yesterday when he read in the press that All Black enforcer Jerry Collins is warning his team-mates of a tougher-than-ever battle with the Sharks forwards because of the “Plum factor.”

“He says the Sharks will be ‘like a loaded shotgun’, referring to the way I prepare teams for the big games,” Plumtree said in the Pretoria News.

Before joining the Sharks, Plumtree was coach of Wellington in the New Zealand National Championship for four years and in that time he coach Collins and most of the current Hurricanes team.

This means that the Hurricanes know most of Plumtree’s moves and he knows theirs.

“There is never a good time to play the Hurricanes in Wellington because they are a team that play so well at home (and are not good travellers), and the concern for me is that they are in position in the competition where they cannot afford to lose a home match,” Plumtree warned.

“I am aware that they set a target of winning at least one of their two pre-tour home games (against the Crusaders last week and the Sharks), so having lost to the Crusaders they will be regarding Saturday’s game as an absolute must-win.”

The Hurricanes are fourth on the table having lost to the Waratahs and the Crusaders but have a game in hand as they had their bye in Week Six.

After Saturday’s match against the Sharks they hit the road for matches in South Africa against the Stormers, Bulls and Cheetahs.

“They are not only desperate to win this game but they want to win it well – they have been frustrated with their lack of consistency given the calibre of player in their squad (nine All Blacks),” Plumtree added.

He is also not writing off the Hurricanes and says that they have what it takes to beat the Sharks.

“Of course they have,” says Plumtree.

“It really is a big night for us and our players always respond to the big occasions.

“We have the players and most importantly we have the attitude.

“The thing is, though, and I keep saying it to the guys: If you want to beat the top teams you have play with great intensity and concentration for longer than 10 minutes at a tight, as we have been doing. You have to keep going for the whole match.

“That is what the Crusaders do so well.

“Even when they do not have the ball, they still keep up the intensity and then when the opposition lose focus, they cash in.”

The Sharks trained on Tuesday afternoon at a rugby club in the suburb where Plumtree used to live. The Sharks appeared to be set on playing Frederic Michalak at flyhalf and with Frans Steyn moving to the midfield where he played in the world cup.

Ryan Kankowski is struggling with an ankle problem so Tongan Epi Taione could feature in his place while Steven Sykes will come in at lock for AJ Venter, who is undergoing a week of intense fitness training to get him up to speed with the rest of the squad.

Venter has been injured much of the season and will play off the bench this week.

Sharks (possible):

15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Frans Steyn, 12 Bradley Barritt, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Fred Michalak, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Ryan Kankowski/Epi Taione, 7 Jacques Botes, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Johann Muller, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.   

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