Sharks boss John Plumtree has welcomed the boost from the returning Springboks for the team ahead of another tough assignment this weekend against the Vodacom Bulls.
The Sharks’ six returning Springboks scored five of the Durbanites’ 10 tries as they smashed the Dragons by 69-14 in the Vodacom URC at Kings Park on Saturday.
According to Plumtree, the return of Eben Etzebeth, Jaden Hendrikse, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, Ox Nche and Grant Williams provided confidence for the rest of the squad, and helped them to make the tough Welsh tourists pay with a strong display as they built a proper innings.
Half of the Sharks’ tries were scored in the final 20 minutes, when they opened the taps to record their first win of the season.
“I thought they were all great. It’s not easy when you come back from such a high like that [a World Cup win],” Plumtree was quoted post-match. “Some of them haven’t played rugby for quite a while, so they were a little bit rusty and a little bit nervous, but the time they had [on Saturday] will be good for next week.
“They were all great during the week as well. They just provide that confidence for the rest of the group. They were coming back into a new coaching set-up as well, so it has been a big week for them and hopefully they enjoyed it too.
“I just think it was the introduction of five or six real class players. Lukhanyo [Am] was better off for his second run as well, but you can’t underestimate how much the others have improved as well.
“Everyone has been working real hard over the last few weeks but we just didn’t have any reward for it.
The Bulls have moved back into the top three on the log, after smashing Connacht in Pretoria, while the Sharks have climbed off the bottom of the table and are in 14th before the teams clash in Pretoria on Saturday.
Plumtree added: “We are still not there where we want to be and we are still not as clinical as we would like to be, especially in our own 22. There is still plenty to work on.
“At least Monday becomes a little bit easier this week. We weren’t perfect and there is still stuff to work on, but we know how tough it is going to be at Loftus next weekend.
“They [Bulls] are playing well. They put away a side [Connacht] that we lost to pretty easily. I got a lot of respect for that Bulls team and it is certainly going to be a tough challenge.”
Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix