Rugby: Sharks pit youngsters against SBW

By Mike Greenaway

Paul Jordaan will attempt to stop the Sonny Bill Williams express train in tonight's Super Rugby final. Photo / AP.
Paul Jordaan will attempt to stop the Sonny Bill Williams express train in tonight's Super Rugby final. Photo / AP.

Sharks coach John Plumtree has put his trust in a 20-year-old youngster, Paul Jordaan, to stop the Sonny Bill Williams express train in tonight's Super Rugby final.

He has also picked Patrick Lambie at fullback while keeping intact the pack of forwards that paved the way for the Sharks' wins in the semifinals against the Stormers last week and the Queensland Reds in the quarter-final the week before.

Jordaan comes in for injured Tim Whitehead and Lambie replaces Riaan Viljoen, who reverts to the bench.

The latter was picked from nowhere to give the Sharks a kicking game against the Stormers but with Lambie now over a long-standing ankle injury, he has been picked at fullback where he not only has presence under the high ball but also a counter-attacking threat as well as a useful boot, not to mention a goal-kicking option.

It will be interesting to see if Plumtree opts for Frederic Michalak to take goal kicks or goes back to his first-choice before injury, Lambie.

Now that his starting line-up has been decided, Plumtree said his team were ready to embrace history.

"We've beaten the Australian Conference winners in Australia, the South African winners in South Africa and now we take on the New Zealand winners in New Zealand," the coach said. "It's been great for our team spirit to knock off the 'impossible' two weeks in a row and it has been because our senior players have stepped up and accepted that challenge, and done really well.

"It has built confidence and getting to the final builds added excitement because of what we've been through. It's given us that little bit of confidence going into the big game."

The Sharks lost narrowly to the Chiefs in April in Durban but Plumtree says that game is irrelevant.

"That was a long time ago, they caught us coming back from our New Zealand tour and we had played a number of games on the trot before that big contest and we were hanging on for a bit of a rest," he reflected.

Where does Plumtree think the game will be won and lost?

"Defensively it's going to be really huge. You'll come under pressure at stages and how we react to that pressure is important. From an attack perspective, we have to make sure we take opportunities wherever they may present themselves."

- NZ Herald

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