Plumtree to stick with Sharks Currie Cup youth

Sharks coach John Plumtree will continue with his current youth policy rather than turn to his returning Springboks when the defending champions face Griquas in a Currie Cup clash in Kimberley on Friday night.

The Sharks are one of only two unbeaten teams in the Premier Division after three rounds of matches, trailing the Golden Lions narrowly on points difference at the top of the log.

They have beaten the Blue Bulls, the Pumas and the Cheetahs in their opening three games, all without 16 key players that did duty in the Super Rugby competition.

With a host of Springboks released back to their clubs by the national selectors this week, there were some further reinforcements available, but Plumtree said he would reward the players who had got them off to a solid start in the Currie Cup.

“We’ll integrate a couple of the Boks from the bench this week,” Plumtree said on Tuesday.

“We’ve got a couple that are resting as well, but it’s really about making sure that those who have done really well, for me, and have obviously played really well for the last three weeks, they get awarded as well.

“So they’ve got another opportunity this week.”

The Sharks had seven players released — Adrian Jacobs, Patrick Lambie, Charl McLeod, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, Alistair Hargreaves and Ryan Kankowski — although not all were at training in Durban on Tuesday.

Plumtree admitted the youngsters had given him plenty of food for thought following the impact they had made in the opening rounds of the domestic competition.

“World Cup year always gives us that opportunity,” he said.

“Some of the boys have really stepped up and I’ve been really impressed, especially with the ones in the forwards.

“A couple of the wingers were outstanding against the Cheetahs as well.

“So it’s real good experience for them and it adds to my depth for Super Rugby next year.”

The wingers he referred to were Mark Richards and Sibusiso Sithole, who both scored tries in the 43-34 win over the Free State side in Durban last week.

The duo had impressed Plumtree so much that he had already ruled out the selection of Ndungane, who was not at training on Tuesday.

“Odwa is one that’s not going to be used this week,” he said.

“This is because we wanted to give the wingers another opportunity.”

Another certain absentee this week would be lock Ross Skeate after he was substituted at the weekend with a groin problem.

In his absence, young Marais brothers Jandre and Peet were drafted in and could feature.

“Ross is not looking good for the weekend, so that’s going to put a bit of pressure on our locking department,” Plumtree said.

“But we’ve got a couple of youngsters here who are really keen to have a go.”

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