Durban - Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White
has given an enthusiastic thumbs-up to his team’s Super Rugby draw for 2014 as he looks to build on the Currie Cup successes, reports Sharks website
editor Michael Marnewick
Whilst the euphoria of being crowned Currie Cup champions back in October may have died down, there is no denying the value that winning the trophy does for a team. Just like losing is a habit, so success breeds further success and White will be hoping that the players continue to enjoy the winning feeling as they chase a maiden Super Rugby crown.
“I think it’s a fantastic draw,” White explains of the Sharks’ Super Rugby schedule which sees them playing a number of games at home to start off with, as well as getting an early bye. Some might argue that the bye early on doesn’t have the same impact as later when bodies have taken a greater pounding for a longer period, but White believes otherwise.
“Both times when I was coaching the Brumbies, when we did well, it coincided with us having our byes early on,” he points out.
“A lot of people initially thought that was a negative because it would break your rhythm, but we get two byes almost in the first month, and that’s fantastic because what it allows is for the competition to unfold on its own without you being involved.
“You can also get a feel for how the referees are going to blow things and what the emphasis will be on early on. Also with the 11 Springboks we have, having a bye early on also allows them to freshen up for what’s in store for them for the rest of the year.”
White finds himself in a different coaching scenario to what he has experienced before. Taking over the Springboks in 2004 when they were at a low point, as well as an inexperienced Brumbies side that had lost the core of their players. Both sides achieved beyond expectations. But it’s different at an established side like the Sharks.
“I never wanted to be known as the chap who always takes over teams that are finished, as in you always have to pick them up from the ashes,” he admits.
“By default it has always happened like that for me, the times when I have joined teams it is almost as if it doesn’t matter what happens; they can only go up.
“But we are settled, we have senior players, Currie Cup winners and a positive energy, which is great. They’ve got everything in place, so it is great time to take over.
“But what I’ve stressed to the players is that I want to start from day one with everyone having a fair understanding of what I’m looking for in a player.
“Here’s an example: if you were a third-choice winger, and we think you can be a first-choice outside centre, then you’ll start for the Sharks at outside centre. That’s what’s so exciting; hopefully everyone can have a fair crack at making a name for themselves by this time next year.
“The realistic thing is that all the lessons I’ve learnt in those success stories I’ve had with my past teams are almost the same things the Sharks are doing here anyway.” The Sharks’ Super Rugby draw:
Saturday 15 February: Sharks v Bulls (Kings Park) 19:10
Saturday 22 February: Sharks v Hurricanes (Kings Park) 17:05
Saturday 8 March: Sharks v Lions (Kings Park) 19:10
Saturday 15 March: Sharks v Reds (Kings Park) 17:05
Saturday 22 March: Bulls v Sharks (Loftus Versfeld) 19:10
Saturday 29 March Sharks v Waratahs (Kings Park) 17:05
Saturday 12 April Lions v Sharks Ellis Park, Johannesburg 19:10
Saturday 19 April: Sharks v Cheetahs (Kings Park) 15:00
Friday 25 April: Sharks v Highlanders (Kings Park) 19:10
Friday 2 May: Rebels v Sharks (AAMI Park) 11:40
Saturday 10 May: Brumbies v Sharks (Canberra Stadium) 11:40
Saturday 17 May: Crusaders v Sharks (AMI Stadium) 9:35
Friday 23 May: Blues v Sharks (North Harbour Stadium) 9:35
Saturday 31 May: Sharks v Stormers (Kings Park) 19:10
Saturday 5 July: Cheetahs v Sharks (Free State Stadium) 19:10
Saturday 12 July: Stormers v Sharks (Newlands) 19:10