Sharks hope to get back on track against Rebels

Sharks’ coach John Plumtree hopes his new-look side will bounce back from last week’s defeat to Super Rugby leaders the Brumbies when they host the Rebels in Durban on Saturday.

Plumtree, who has made seven changes to his team this week, is banking on his players to recover from their first loss of the Super Rugby campaign.

“We know we’re not at full strength, but we’ve still got a good side,” Plumtree said.

“It’s a different team, and we’re playing some good opposition. We’ve won three and lost one, so it hasn’t all been that bad, but we want to play better and that’s what we’re aiming to do.

“We had a lesson last week, and it’s just about how we respond to that lesson.”

Blaming a lack of cohesion in his squad, Plumtree said the team was still searching for the right combinations.

This was made tougher by the absence of some injured senior players.

“It’s not any one combination or any unit, whether it’s forwards or backs, that’s bad. It’s just that the whole thing is not working, so that’s what we’ve got to get right,” he said.

“When we won the Currie Cup in 2010, we were a very cohesive unit, and when we got through to the Super Rugby finals last year, we were the same thing.

“We haven’t quite got there yet, but that’s the challenge that’s issued out to the players. We’re looking at solving problems, and we’re working hard on that.

“The challenge for the players this weekend is to take what we’re doing on the practice field onto the pitch and upping the intensity of everything we’re doing.”

While the Rebels have picked up only one win in four games, Plumtree expects the tourists to play a free-flowing, running game, and he said the home side’s defence would need to be at their best.

“Every Super Rugby side is capable of applying pressure, and we’ve got to make sure we put them under pressure.

“We’ve obviously looked at them and identified their patterns of play, but at the end of the day we’ve got to be able to inflict some pain on them.

“We haven’t been able to do that enough the last couple of weeks, so that’s certainly got to be the goal this week.”

Sharks’ captain Keegan Daniel hoped the coastal outfit would brush off last week’s defeat.

“They’ve got some quality players in their team, but I think this week we’re really just focusing on ourselves,” Daniel said.

“We can’t focus too much on them. We need to put last week’s performance behind us as quickly as possible and move on. It’s a new chapter, a new team, and possibly a few guys will get the opportunity to play more than they have in the past and show what they’re capable of.

“We need 15 guys who are committed this weekend, and that’s what we want to get.”

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