Sharks boss addresses Eben Etzebeth’s absence after Springboks lock pulls out of derby clash

Eben Etzebeth missed the Sharks’ derby clash with the Stormers due to a “stomach complaint”, according to head coach John Plumtree.

Before the game began, the second row was substituted in the starting lineup for the coastal derby.

In Etzebeth’s absence, young lock Corne Rahl began and scored a try, but he was unable to keep the Durban team from losing.

Hasn’t trained

“Eben had been struggling with a stomach complaint since Tuesday and hadn’t trained,” Plumtree told reporters. “He was getting better but just wasn’t good enough on the day of the game.

“We’ve trained with the other young locks that we’ve got there. It was nice having Gerbrandt Grobler come back from injury and I thought he played really well for half the game he played.

“It was good to have his experience in there, so that’s a positive.”

Etzebeth’s injury shouldn’t be permanent, fortunately for the Sharks, but it might have made a difference in Saturday’s game.

After losing to the Stormers 16–15 in Cape Town, the Sharks suffered their seventh defeat in eight URC encounters.

According to Plumtree, “we had a world-class player there who was excited to play the Stormers.” Before the game, Etzebeth informed me that he hadn’t played them since departing in 2019.

He will have to wait for that chance, but on Saturday, I felt the young locks played incredibly well.

Difficult return for Plumtree

Despite being without Etzebeth, the Sharks still had a number of Springboks in their ranks on Saturday.

The return of their South Africa internationals following the Rugby World Cup has not yet had the desired effect as they currently sit second-bottom in the URC table.

Plumtree, who led the side between 2008 and 2012, has struggled on his return to Durban, but the head coach has pleaded for patience.

“There’s a lot to do in Durban, it’s just one step at a time. There’s a lot for the players to get used to,” he said.

“They’ve got to get used to me because I’m different and they’ve got to get used to a new coaching team. I’ve

I’ve got to become used to them and their methods since I don’t actually know many of these players that well.

“I think we saw a slightly different style on Saturday, but we feel like we’ll get on the right track eventually. There’s obviously a style of game we want to play.”

“I’ve already stated that it will take some time. For the Sharks supporters, patience is the key.

“It’s been difficult throughout the years, most likely ever since they fired me—that was a major error, wasn’t it? I shouldn’t mention this, but administrators’ choices determine whether you survive or perish in this game.

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