Plumtree can steer Sharks out of murky water, says Botes

“I think he’ll know how to steer through these murky waters, though it is a challenging time for the group and for him as a coach.”

Sharks legend Jacques Botes has backed the team’s coach John Plumtree to steer the franchise out of the murky waters they currently find themselves in.

It has been a disappointing season for the Sharks so far in the United Rugby Championship; they are rooted at the bottom of the log having lost eight of their nine matches.

While the Challenge Cup, European rugby’s second-tier competition, has been their silver lining, the team have managed to make it through to the knockout stages.

Plumtree’s second tenure as the head honcho of the Sharks has failed to live up to expectations, but a number of factors can be attributed to the slump the team are experiencing this term.

Plumtree has Sharks credentials

Botes, who played under Plumtree during his playing career, believes his former mentor is the right man to lead the Sharks, despite the pressure he has been under this season.

“From my experience with Plum, he’s fanatical when it comes to the jersey,” Botes said when speaking to The Citizen.

“You’re going to look far and wide to find someone with better credentials than Plum for the Sharks. He’s a coach who really loves the jersey, and loves the Sharks environment. Since he left in 2012, he has gained some real international experience.

“So I think he’ll know how to steer through these murky waters, though it is a challenging time for the group and for him as a coach.

“I think there’s an element of culture within the team that needs fresh air, and I think Plum is the right guy to bring that about.

“He’s under pressure to do it sooner rather than later but I do not doubt that he’ll be able to pull it through. He’s vastly experienced. I’m sure he’s not sleeping well at the moment, he wants to sort it out as quickly as anyone else,” he said.

Challenge Cup can save Sharks season

The Sharks resume their URC campaign on Saturday with a clash against the Stormers at Durban’s Kings Park.

Despite playing six of their remaining games at home, reaching the playoffs of the URC to secure a place in next season’s Champions Cup looks like a long shot for the Sharks because of their results so far.

This has seen them declare the Challenge Cup a priority as it allows them to enter the Champion Cup should they manage to win it. Botes has endorsed the Sharks’ plan to qualify for the Champions Cup as winners of the Challenge Cup.

“It’s almost like a back door,” Botes said.

“A win or two in the Challenge Cup at the right time can change the season. Then we’ll have a different conversation. I’m sure they will give it their best effort to make sure they get through.”