Gary Teichmann chats to Sport24

    2015-05-08 13:03

    Grant Shub

    Cape Town - In an exclusive interview, former Sharks skipper GARY TEICHMANN discusses the Sharks’ leaky defence, poor crowd attendance and the clash with the Hurricanes on Saturday.

    Sport24 asked: You’ve said that there are two types of rugby players – the game breakers and the grafters. Explain why you fell into the latter category during your playing career.

    Gary Teichmann: Game breakers are players who can do something special at any given moment, whereas the work rate of the grafters in the game is way higher. I was the type of player who was less flamboyant, but who would put in the hard yards and lead by example.

    Sport24 asked: Since dispensing of John Plumtree’s services, Sharks fans have endured a rollercoaster Super Rugby ride. What do you believe has gone wrong behind the scenes?

    Gary Teichmann: The change at boardroom level and the comings and goings of coaches since Plumtree’s departure has had a big effect. The players appear to be caught between game plans. They played a conservative, defence-based game with Jake White at the helm and under Gary Gold the emphasis has been more on attack. To me, it looks like a team that is not really sure of how they want to play the game and when you lose, your confidence is eroded. Brendan Venter taking the pre-season and Gold coming in late was far from ideal. While the Sharks have already leaks more tries than the whole of last season, their attacking options haven’t been that great either. For me, defence is about attitude and confidence, whereas attack is something that players need to train really hard at in order to perfect.

    Sport24 asked: In his book John Mitchell said, “I strongly suspect the Sharks are running out of money, which could be problematic for the game in this country.” Your opinion?

    Gary Teichmann: While I can’t comment on the financial side, as I don’t have the figures in front of me, you simply can’t expect the finances to be flowing when season tickets and crowd attendance on match day is not what the union had hoped for. In terms of the number of fans coming through the turnstiles, it’s certainly not looking good for the Sharks. I believe the problem stems from the Sharks not investing enough in youth, which was never an issue in the past. As a province, I feel we have taken our eye off the ball in terms of youth development. I believe John Smit needs to forge a vision and a plan of action, because that is all loyal Sharks supporters are asking for. However, I must stress that there is no quick fix.

    Sport24 asked: The Sharks have announced the signing of Jacques Potgieter. Your take?

    Gary Teichmann: I would contradict myself if I said it was a great addition, because I believe we should be focusing on the youth. I know for a fact that there are quality youngsters coming through the ranks. One such example is 19-year-old Daniel du Preez. I’m not suggesting Potgieter is a bad player, but it’s time for the Sharks to rebuild and start bringing quality youth products through. Young players should be given more opportunities. The youth also have the positive effect of keeping senior players on their toes. If there is no quality youth coming through, then your senior players are not put under any real pressure.

    Sport24 asked: The South African player drain post-World Cup 2015 is inevitable. However, how can we stem the tide and retain the core group of our player pool?

    Gary Teichmann: The South African Rugby Union has to think outside the box to keep our top South African talent. The way we have contracted players in the past has not been correct. However, what I believe is that Saru is now going to own more of the player than the union. In my view, that will stand us on a better footing for international rugby and that’s what it’s really about. The New Zealand Rugby Union has contracted centrally for a long time. My question is why have we taken so long to change it around? Moving forward, Saru has to own the major portion of a player in the best interests of South African rugby.

    Sport24 asked: Bismarck du Plessis has recently relinquished the captaincy. Give us your take and explain what qualities a leader of men must demonstrate both on-field and off.

    Gary Teichmann: The first mark of an effective captain is that you have to have the respect of your fellow players. I believe that you are on a hiding to nothing if you don’t. You can’t demand respect, you have to work to earn it. Secondly, the relationship between the coach and the captain has to be very tight. I had that with Ian McIntosh and Nick Mallett, until towards the end. You have to be on the same page and strive for the same objectives in the best interests of the team. Bismarck is a great player, but perhaps he was a better captain under White, because the latter was more dictatorial. There isn’t a right way or wrong way to captain a side. There was a huge difference between how Francois Pienaar captained the Springboks and how I did. Francois came across exceptionally well in team talks and was a motivational leader. However, if I had tried to copy his captaincy style, I don’t think I would have been successful. Being an emotional captain is not a bad thing, but I tried to lead from the front and hoped that other players would follow suit. I was inspired by Wahl Bartman’s quiet but effective form of captaincy. Bartman really let his rugby do the talking. As a leader, I wasn’t big on giving lofty speeches before a game and relied a lot on my senior players.

    Sport24 asked: On-field discipline has proved a problem for the Sharks this season, having incurred three red cards and three yellows. What does sound discipline come down to?

    Gary Teichmann: First let me say that we were just so well-disciplined under Ian McIntosh that we didn’t need any team protocols in that regard. But jokes aside, I believe discipline is all about setting standards. Mac always stressed to us as a team that we just couldn’t afford to lose a player during a match. However, we also had some fiery characters in our side which I think is crucial, because if a team has 15 Pat Lambies who are cool, calm and collected, they will also struggle. A successful team needs a combination of both types of personalities. Fiery characters just need to be kept in check by more composed players.

    Sport24 asked: The Sharks tackle the table-topping Hurricanes. How can they be beaten?

    Gary Teichmann: The Sharks have to close down the Hurricanes’ space, as the hosts are deadly in broken field. The Sharks’ defensive line has to be so strong if they have any chance of winning the game and they must make their first-time tackles. The fact the Sharks have missed the most tackles this season – 243 – underlines their fragility on defence. When I was still playing for the Sharks, there were phases when we were losing and our confidence was low, and in those instances we would always work on getting our defence right. If your defence is strong, from there you can create opportunities. As a defender you have to put the pressure on the attacker and it has to be on your terms. I believe whichever team dominates the area between the defensive line and the attacking line will win the match.


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