Plumtree relishing shot at familiar foes

Rob LloydNews

Taine Plumtree is relishing his return to international rugby as one of six Scarlets involved in Saturday’s Wales Test against the Springboks in Twickenham.

The back-rower has been selected at blindside for the clash with the world champions – an opportunity to build on his opening two caps against England last summer and the uncapped game against the Barbarians.

Looking forward to Saturday’s match-up in the west of London, he said: “It’s awesome. It’s been a pretty exciting week. I came into optional training after Judgement Day and the boys have been working hard and preparing ourselves for what will be a pretty tough game this weekend.”

Reflecting on an injury-curtailed first season in West Wales, the 24-year-old continued: “Obviously, I came in and had an untimely injury. But I have had five games to try to get back into the squad and now I’m here I’m just going to take the opportunity with both hands and really go for it.

“I came over to Wales without any expectations. I was told I was joining for the pre-World Cup training. I thought I’d just be in there for Switzerland and Turkey, but being able to play a couple of capped games was something I didn’t think could happen. I was just grateful and honoured to be able to represent Wales. It was unbelievable.

“I had the injury but didn’t get surgery straight away. I wanted to hopefully stay in the background and maybe get a call up if anything happened to anyone in France. But the injury gave me an opportunity to really get to know the boys at the Scarlets and play with them. I think that was the best way to get to know them and for them to see what I’m about.

“I don’t regret getting the surgery straight away at all. I’ve made really good friends at the Scarlets, but after playing six games the shoulder kept popping out, so I had to get the surgery done. It went by pretty quickly and I’m good now.”

Plumtree qualifies for South Africa through his mother and will come up against some familiar faces on Saturday with a number of players involved in the Boks side part of the Hollywoodbets Sharks squad coached by his father John.

“When Dad came over to play us (Scarlets) I went to spend a bit of time with him,” he added. “They have got such a high respect for him. I went to stay with them in London before their EPCR Challenge Cup final. It was quite cool because I would go down to breakfast and the players would come up and shake my hand and give my Mum a hug. I got to know a few of the boys. Phepsi Buthelezi is a good man and I’m stoked for him that he’s made the team. Aphelele Fassi is starting at full-back and it will be good to see them out there.

“Facing the Springboks is obviously going to be a challenge but it’s the best time for us as a team to really show what we are made of and to really test ourselves. 

“I’m just going to go into this week feeling I’ve got nothing to lose and we’ve got nothing to lose and hopefully put out a performance that will help us to build into the summer tour.”