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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

Sharks must have own identity outside of Bok player influence — Plumtree

"The team is not about individuals coming in from the Springboks."

The Sharks have grown to be associated with the Springboks in recent years as they supply the national rugby team with several players.

In the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup triumph in France, the Sharks had front rowers Ox Nche, Vincent Koch, Bongi Mbonambi, lock Eben Etzebeth, scrumhalves Jaden Hendrikse and Grant Williams, midfielder Lukhanyo Am and winger Makazole Mapimpi all representing them.

But, over the last two seasons of the United Rugby Championship, the Sharks have fallen in the last eight as their Springboks-laden team lacked cohesiveness.

At the start of this URC campaign, the Sharks have lost their opening five games as they did not have their internationals available to them, however, they then won their sixth match last weekend against the Dragons, thanks to the influence of the Bok players.

Sharks identity

Sharks mentor John Plumtree though wants to build a team that’s not shaped around the Springboks, and that with or without the internationals they need to get good enough to win.

“We have got to mould a good team; the team is not about individuals coming in from the Springboks … the key to having any successful team is how they mould together,” he said.

“Yes, we have a number of (international) players coming back, and yes, a couple of good ones at that … but we are not a Springboks team, we are a Sharks team, and how we gel and play together on any given day is up to us.

“We can only control what you can, we can’t control other things but what we can control is our effort, and that’s the only pressure I want to put on the boys,” he said.

‘It’s the Sharks versus the Bulls’

The Sharks will take on the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday (3pm) in a URC clash that will boast several World Cup winners in the match and although the presence of several World Cup winners will be the main attraction for the fans, Plumtree believes the influence of the Boks won’t win the derby.

“I know how many Boks are (going to be) playing out there but I don’t count them, it’s the Sharks versus the Bulls. We have got a few, and they have got a few, but it won’t come down to that, it’ll come down to the best team.

“We just want to play well, we want to build on what we did last week, we realise the challenge is a lot greater, playing the Bulls at Loftus is always one of the great challenges in the URC,” he said.

The Sharks have made one change from last weekend’s match day 23 with Aphiwe Dyantyi replacing Werner Kok.

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