Cape Town - One failed Super Rugby season later, Sharks coach Gary Gold appears wiser to the demands of being in charge of the Durban-based franchise.
An 11th placed finish in Super Rugby was simply never going to satisfy any of the King's Park faithful, and as Gold prepares his charges for the Currie Cup season he does so with the knowledge that winning rugby matches is more important than anything else.
"At the end of the day there are two factors. First, we have to win. Whether we like it or not, we can dress it up and put ribbons in the hair, but we have to win," Gold said in Durban this week.
"That is the demand in Durban and that is the demand with a franchise as good as the Sharks and I realise that. We’ll have a pragmatic approach ... whatever makes us win rugby games.
"There are things you can do in the game that still make the game attractive and you can win."
The other thing that Gold is prioritising this season?
"The other thing is, and forget about playing styles or anything like that, is the hunger and the desire. That’s all I really want the Sharks supporters to see," said Gold.
"I want us to play to 100% of our potential for 100% of the time … I think with this group of players we should win a lot more than we lose. If we win it, we win it … if we don’t win it we don’t, but we have to play with that intensity."
The Sharks are set to field a new-look side this Currie Cup season with new recruits Joe Pietersen, Michael Claasens, David McDuling, Philip van der Walt and Wandile Mjekevu all ready to be unleashed. As a result, much of the Sharks' pre-season preparations, which included a camp on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast last week, have been centred around the squad getting to know each other.
"We got a lot of stuff done off the field and hopefully got to sweep away quite a few of the cobwebs from the Super Rugby," said Gold.
"We had a situation where we asked the guys playing their first Cyrrie Cup to stand up and it’s nearly 50% of the squad … it has been a real big cleanout and we need to do a lot of work on our cohesion as group.
"A lot of the guys haven’t met each other before and that was really what the week was about … our cohesion. A lot less about our playing styles and more about what we want to be about and what we have to produce."
The Sharks begin their Currie Cup campaign against the Pumas at Mbombela Stadium on August 7 and they play a pre-season friendly against the Golden Lions in Pietermaritzburg on Friday. That match will see Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit return to action after recovering from a knee injury as he looks to stake a claim for a place in Heyneke Meyer's World Cup squad.