A losing streak like this is new to him says Plumtree
REACTION: Sharks coach John Plumtree is brutally honest about the run of bad luck his side is currently going through. He confirms that he has never lost so many matches in a row in his time as a coach.
And that is saying a lot.
After retiring as a player, Plumtree coached Swanswea in Wales for five seasons, winning the Welsh Cup (1999), the Welsh League (1998), and the Welsh-Scottish League (2001).
He was then appointed as coach of the Wellington Lions and under his management, they reached the final playoffs in 2003, 2004 and 2006.
He returned to South Africa as coach of the Sharks, a team he represented as a player between 1985 and 1997.
He went on to guide them to Currie Cup wins in 2008 and 2010.
The Taranaki-born and raised Plumtree became a key member of the Hurricanes coaching staff, working as an assistant to head coach Chris Boyd for three seasons.
In March 2018, the Hurricanes announced that Plumtree will take the Head Coach role for the 2019 Super Rugby season, guiding them to the semifinal where they were beaten by eventual champions the Crusaders.
After the 2019 World Cup in Japan, Plumtree joined the new All Blacks coaching team under Ian Foster as the side’s forward coach.
But the 58-year Plumtree was removed as an assistant last July following their home series loss to Ireland and he then helped out at Manawatu until he was appointed as the Sharks head coach.
Subsequently his endeavours leading the Durban-based side has proved to be one of the toughest of his career.
The Sharks had a torrid time in Europe – which brought successive defeats to Munster, Leinster, Ospreys and Zebre – leaving them bottom of the table.
Eight Springboks are still unavailable, amongst them Bongi Mbonambi and Vincent Koch who both face long lay-offs due to knee injuries. Lock Hyron Andrews and No.8 George Cronje are both suspended for four games after a red card and citing respectively against Zebre.
Their draw in this years’ URC has been a challenge, facing top Irish sides.
“I’ve never lost this many games in a row, it’s new to me. I don’t like losing,” Plumtree said after their first loss at home over the weekend against Connacht.
“We need to help them to fix it. On Monday we are our harshest critics.
“We’re still not quite clinical enough. We played the most rugby tonight, and I’m quite proud about that because that’s what I’ve come here to do.
“Our line-out didn’t function as good as it could’ve.
“I’m hurting, and I’m hurting mainly for the team because they’re trying really hard and not getting any reward. They’re a young group and it’s really tough for them, and every week they’re working and we’re just not getting over the line. But we’ll get there.
Referring to their loss against Connacht, the coach clearly felt they were in it to win it, but crucial mistakes let them down.
“I don’t think there was anything wrong with our defence, they only scored one try and they normally score a lot more tries than that, so I think our defence was really good. Attacking-wise, we’ve just got to be more clinical.
“I thought Lukhanyo was really good tonight, first game back after such a long break and he showed his class.
“The guy pulls the trigger on the right options just because of his experience and that’s the standard. And we’ve got guys around that are aspiring to be like that.
“I was really proud of Lukhanyo. I wasn’t going to play him for 80 and he wanted to do that so good on him.
“If you look at the number of passes and the rugby we played, we’re playing some good footie, but not ruthless enough. Just moments in the game where we are making mistakes.
“I’ve been saying it all week and I’ll probably keep saying it – we’re playing a different style of game to the way the Sharks have been playing for a good number of years, and we’re playing that game with the same players.
“There’s going to be teething problems and for some players, with their skill sets, it’s challenging.
“But, I’m not going back to kicking the ball away and trying to create opportunities through luck. I want to build pressure through us playing good rugby. Dave Williams is doing a good job in that space.”