Plumtree: Super Rugby Bye won’t affect Sharks

Sharks coach John Plumtree says that he is confident that their Super Rugby bye last weekend will have little effect on their performance against the Crusaders in Durban on Friday.

The coastal franchise won their last match against the Rebels two weeks ago in record fashion when they thumped the Australians 64-7, with that victory enabling them to sit top of the South African conference and third overall.

“I’ve been pretty happy with the way the players have come back, the training sessions have been good and we’re looking forward to the game,” Plumtree said.

“The bye week gave them a bit of a break from the intensity of the competition, mentally a big switch off, and now it’s a case of mentally switching right back on.”

The New Zealanders are the most successful club in the history of the competition, but are only just starting to hit full stride after losing their opening two matches of the season.

The ‘Crusaders will be without several of their star All Blacks for the tour of South Africa, including Dan Carter and Kieran Read, while Israel Dagg is only on the bench after missing the Crusaders’ 19-14 win over the Stormers last week.

“They showed what a fine outfit they are with so many of their players out and they did so well in Cape Town,” Plumtree said.

“You have to give (coach) Todd Blackadder a lot of credit for how well they’re playing.

“Their skill levels are really high, backs and forwards handle the ball well, our defensive plan is going to have to be very accurate.”

The big reason for their victory at Newlands was winning the line-out battle and it is an area that the Sharks are wary of ahead of the clash.

“The lineout has been a big focus for us, not only for this match but throughout the competition,” Plumtree said.

The Sharks’ squad announced on Wednesday sported three changes to the one that trounced the Rebels, most notably the return of Frans Steyn in the number 15 jersey after he was dropped against the Australians following some below-par showings at centre in the opening few weeks.

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