John Plumtree says there will be a “bedding-in” period for the returning Springboks, but hopes they can add a touch of ruthlessness to the winless Sharks.
Eben Etzebeth is at the head of a contingent of five Springboks back in action for the struggling Sharks, who have yet to win in their opening five games under Plumtree.
Having already returned to the starting lineup last week, centre Lukhanyo Am has taken over the captaincy, while the Sharks have also welcomed back the likes of Jaden Hendrikse and Makazole Mapimpi for the clash with Welsh outfit Dragons.
It will be a first start since the August World Cup warm-up against Wales for Hendrikse, while Mapimpi will be returning from a facial bone injury that brought his participation at the World Cup to an early end.
Speaking after naming the matchday-23 for the Vodacom URC game, Plumtree expressed his delight over finally being able to recall his Springboks, but said it will take some time for them to find their footing.
“We had a meeting on Monday morning, just a general chat over how they are feeling mentally and physically,” said Plumtree. “We got a bit of feedback over what it means to be back here with us, coming off such a high. It was really positive and they were all really keen to go.
“They have been great all week, adding their experience to what we are doing – they obviously have lots of leadership – filling our boys with a lot of confidence.
“I expect them to be a lot better next week, than they will be this week,” Plumtree added. “Even though they have trained well, they haven’t played for a while.
“There is a bit of nervousness around their lungs, but we will monitor that through the game. Not sure how its going to pan out, good to get a nice start with them.
“They might be a bit rusty. I think we have to be aware that there might be a bit of a bedding-in period. Hopefully, it won’t last long and they can get back into it. We’ve been playing some good rugby, but we lack that ruthlessness in terms of execution to use our opportunities.
“Hopefully that experience in there in terms of taking the right option or a bit of skill to put someone away, will come. They’ve just got that little bit of nous and can problem-solve on their feet. That’s the benefit of getting experience back in that group.”
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