Jake praises his young guns
Auckland - Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby wasn’t ever going to be anything but completely delighted with his team’s historic first-ever win over the Crusaders in New Zealand, and of the effort of the young players.
According to Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick, it was a brave, committed, wonderful defensive effort to win this game against all odds.
"One has to be really proud," he explained from the team’s base in Auckland as they prepare for their final tour match against the Blues this Friday morning.
"We’d never won at this stadium before, South African sides generally struggle there.
"They had an incredible record against Aussie and South African sides at home and even good Sharks sides have come to Christchurch and never won.
"You have to feel really proud when you come off the field and you’ve shown an effort like you have, especially with 14 men.
"It’s unheard of in sport around the world to see a team of 14 men win, and I’m sure people will talk about this game for a long, long time."
Loathe to make suggestions why the Crusaders lost, instead he had thoughts on why the Cell C Sharks won and what proved to be the difference in the end.
"It’s hard for us to be critical about their performance, all you can say is that there was a massive desire and hunger from our side.
"Maybe in some ways, as Richie McCaw said afterwards, they thought it would just happen, perhaps they were lulled into a false sense of security with them playing against 14 men.
"But at the same time, it’s well-documented that we were galvanised and the guys stuck together.
"There was a massive calmness amongst the team.
"The significance was that one team had momentum and the other just expected it to happen."
With the game hovering on a knife’s edge in the final 15 minutes, White bravely sent on an entire front row to replace centurions Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira with Dale Chadwick, Lourens Adriaanse and Kyle Cooper (pictured), sacrificing 314 caps for a grand total of 58, while Tim Swiel took over at flyhalf and in only his fourth match at Super Rugby level, calmly slotted the five points (converting Kyle Cooper’s marvellous try as well as a penalty) that proved the difference between winning and drawing (or worse).
He agreed that it was a fantastic effort from the replacements.
"One thing that is really difficult when you have a good group of players is to keep everybody happy because there is competition for places and people want to feel part of the team," he explained.
"What we got out of this weekend was that players who least expected to be involved in a big game like that were not only involved, but made a massive contribution and played an active role in getting the result.
"There has been a massive boost in our squad by everyone feeling like they are contributing towards the success of the campaign."
White also believes the win will be crucial in terms of motivation for the squad for the remainder of the tournament.
"There was a lot of talk before we left about how hard it is to tour and how South African sides have toured badly.
"There were questions asked why South African sides aren’t winning away from home.
"So to come over and beat the Crusaders after such a drought of wins against them in Christchurch is massive.
"We are also obviously mindful of the fact that we can’t jump the gun.
"We still have two more games before the June recess and we need to keep the momentum going."
White confirmed that despite the effort required from his team, there were no injuries sustained.
"We’re very lucky, for all that time the 14 players defended, we got away fine with just Jean Deysel at a hearing, everyone else is available for selection."