Stormers are envied by their rivals, says Sharks coach Plumtree
"The boys down there play for each other and they appear to have a team spirit."
Sharks coach John Plumtree looks on during a training session at Kings Park. Picture: Steve Haag Sports/Gallo Images
With the Stormers having set high standards in the United Rugby Championship (URC) since the competition’s inception, it is no surprise that Sharks coach John Plumtree says the former champions are envied for building a strong team.
The Stormers won the inaugural URC campaign, beating the Bulls 18-13 at Cape Town Stadium, and they hosted last season’s final at home but lost out to Munster. The standards they have set as a team in the URC have seen them earn respect across the board.
During the festive season, John Dobson’s Stormers have again shown their class with impressive back-to-back wins against two-time Champions Cup winners La Rochelle and the Bulls in last weekend’s North-South derby.
Meanwhile, the Sharks seem to have regressed this season while other SA teams such as the Bulls and Lions have improved. The project under Plumtree is yet to take off but he’s aiming to mirror what the Stormers have done.
“I can’t speak highly enough about the Stormers. It has taken a couple of years to get into this spot they are in through a lot of hard work from their coaching team and management. They are probably a lot of envy for a lot of teams in this competition,” said Plumtree.
“They have built what most teams envy. The boys down there play for each other and they appear to have a team spirit; the leaders lead. They have got physicality, they have got blend to their game and some outstanding backs.
“They have a plan they believe in, and they fight for 80 minutes, as we saw against La Rochelle. That shows you what type of group they have got, and that’s where we want our squad to be.”
The Sharks’ season has not yet gained momentum as they have lost six out of seven matches, and they are second from bottom in the points table.
A win against a brilliant Stormers side will be able to launch their campaign. However, Plumtree knows this won’t be an easy feat as the Stormers are a formidable side at home.
“It’s an opportunity. We are underdogs, but so are most teams that go down to Cape Town,” Plumtree said.
“That fuels them, they know that and that makes them better. That’s what quality teams are made up of.”