John Plumtree said that having a bevy of World Cup winners at the Sharks won’t matter if they don’t gel as a team when two Bok-powered sides clash in Pretoria on Saturday.
The Durbanites welcomed back their world champion Springboks last week and they made an immediate impact, as Plumtree’s troops demolished the Dragons 69-14 at home to earn their first win of the season in the Vodacom URC.
However, another challenge awaits the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld this weekend, where the coastal outfit will face an in-form Vodacom Bulls side boasting its own set of Boks.
Addressing the media after naming the Sharks matchday 23 on Thursday, head coach Plumtree told reporters: “The team is not about a whole lot of individuals coming in from the Springboks; the key to having any successful team is how they mold together.
“Yes, we’ve got a couple of players coming back, and yes, they’re very good ones. But we’ve also seven, eight, nine, up to 15 other players that have got to play really well for us to be successful.
“We’re not the Springbok team, we’re the Sharks team, and how we gel and how we play together on any given day is really up to us.
“I know how many Boks are out there, I don’t count them. It’s the Sharks versus the Bulls, and we’ve got a few and they’ve got a few, but it won’t come down to that – it’ll come down to the best team.”
After five successive defeats, Plumtree wants to capitalise on last week’s resounding victory at Kings Park ahead of a maiden campaign in the Challenge Cup.
“We just want to play well and build on what we did last week,” he said. “We realise the challenge is much greater, playing the Bulls at Loftus, and there’s not too many sides that win there.
“We have to get a lot of things right if we want to win on the weekend. We’ve had good preparation but that’ll mean nothing, it’s all about what happens in those 80 minutes.
“The Bulls are a confident team and have been playing consistently well, they put away Connacht last week with ease, and we lost to Connacht.
“I’ve spoken a lot to the media about my long-term plan and we’re on a journey… This weekend’s performance doesn’t define who we’re going to be, but it’ll be great if we can go up there and do well and look forward to the Challenge Cup the following week.”
Aphiwe Dyantyi is the only team change, and on the speedster’s progress after completing a four-year ban, Plumtree added: “I said at the start of the season that we cannot expect too much from Aphiwe yet, he has been out of the game for a long time.
“I’m really excited about where he is going to go – great athlete, really quick – but there’s small parts of his game that he still needs to work on, understanding the game plan and how he fits into it.
“When the play gets unstructured he’s pretty exciting to watch and capable of doing anything, so he’s on the right track.”