The Hollywoodbets Sharks go into their Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash with Edinburgh at Hollywoodbets Kings Park with confidence, tempered by the acknowledgement they have a huge challenge ahead of them.

Head coach John Plumtree admits in the build-up to the game that the team is in a good space after their victory over Ulster, and that their preparation for the game has gone well.

“Coming to work on Monday was always going to be something to look forward to, the players were really in a good space,” the coach explains.

“As coaches we know we weren’t perfect against Ulster, we had a lot to work on and we’re always looking to challenge the players. But we’ve had a good week.”

As always, the team will analyse their performance and look to both improve what went well as well as areas that need to be tightened up.

“We were far from perfect against Ulster but if our set-piece functions well, we can be in any contest for 80 minutes. We feel that we need to be better when we enter the 22 from an attack perspective, we haven’t shown the right amount of patience. We’re building pressure but finishing off opportunities is really important to us.  Defensively we were very good as well. So building on these areas is important.”

Competition for places has been the talking point lately and having a full squad available creates pressure amongst the players.  Here the Hollywoodbets Sharks find themselves in a healthy position as the players all vie for positions in the team.

“That was my main theme last week and after the performance in last week’s game, we have some real selection headaches.

“We’re excited because we have the team back that we want, it’s the first time I’ve been able to pick a full-strength Hollywoodbets Sharks side and we’re creating some competition.

“You cannot have a successful team if you’re not creating competition for places which has been part of my problem this season, not having that. Competition for places keeps the team on edge, playing well enough to keep your spot.”

Looking ahead to the game and how the team have prepared, Plumtree points out that, “Our focus is not really around the opposition but our own side running well. These two games [against Ulster and Edinburgh] were about us getting some cohesion and creating  competition before picking a side against Zebre that we think can do the job.

“Edinburgh come off a loss but they have six or seven international players who have joined their squad, so the side they put out this week should be quite a bit different to the team they put out last week.

“Edinburgh are in the hunt for the URC play-offs and they’ll be excited about that.

“We know how tough this game is going to be with all their Scottish internationals, x-factor players who are household names. It’s going to be a real test for us which is exactly what we want building up to the Zebre game.”