Plumtree exercising squad management ahead of Challenge Cup Semi final

Written by on 18 April, 2024

By Ayanda Nyuswa

Hollywoodbets Sharks coach John Plumtree has made wholesale changes to his matchday squad for their Vodacom United Rugby Championship trip to Scotland to face Glasgow Worriors at their fortress Scotstoun Stadium on Friday night. This will be the Durban sides first away match in almost a month after playing four matches in a row at Kings Park, where they won every single game to advance to the semi finals of the EPCR Challenge Cup, where they will face French side Clermont Auvergne, and move away from the foot of the table in the URC.

John Plumtree named a completely changed starting fifteen from the team ran out against Edinburgh in the Challenge Cup quarterfinals last week. The side enjoys a mixture of youth and experience that will mostly come off the bench with the likes of Vincent Koch, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Grant Williams, Curwin Bosch and new boy Siya Masuku all featuring among the reserves. The Sharks coach says there is a lot of excitement in the group after their recent run of good form, and fringe players having the opportunity to prove themselves in the coming weeks ahead of the crucial Challenge Cup semi final.

“There is a lot of changes and we are playing one of the best sides in the competition at home so it is a massive challenge for this group that we have selected. They are looking forward to it there’s a mixture of some senior players in this team, there is quite a few young guys as well. There’s been a real nice little build up, we have had a good week and yeah it is going to be interesting to see how we get on. They are all really looking forward to it and they’re excited about even though we know it’s going to be a challenge for us,” Plumtree said to reporters ahead of Fridays game.

The Sharks big hitters have stayed behind in Durban for this week and are expected to make the trip to Europe for next weeks clash against the Scarlets in Llanelli, in preparation for the all important Challenge Cup semi final on 4 May. Plumtree has emphasised the need to manage the workload of his regular starters ahead of some crucial matches in the business end of the season.

“The players we have left in Durban have had big workloads in the last four games, Eben Etzebeth is an example of someone who has had a massive workload especially with the Boks. It is important for us to manage him, and he is also an older athlete. We are also playing this game on a 5G surface, which is harder on the limbs. So we made the decision to give those boys extra time to freshen up and work on their conditioning. We know Eben is recovering from a rib injury and this extra week will give him more time to feel better. We feel it is the right decision for us and the players. Aphelele Fassi, James Venter and other players we have left behind have all had big work loads,” Plumtree added.


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