Durban - Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold denies that the union are advertising for the position of head coach of the senior team, but has confirmed that he will not be coaching the side going forward and that the search for a team mentor has started.
According to the supersport.com website, Gold was employed by the Sharks as Director of Rugby late last year, a role he filled successfully for England club Bath for a time, and was under the impression that it would be the function he would perform in Durban.
However, like his predecessor Jake White, he ended up doubling as head coach, meaning that the requirements of a director such as overseeing succession planning, recruitment and the youth levels have been neglected, with his late arrival at the Sharks at the end of the Japanese club season compounding the magnitude of the uphill task that he faced.
Gold said in conversation in March that his plan was to bring in a coach, and after a disastrous Super Rugby season ended in bitter sweet style with a laboured 34-12 win over a second string Stormers team on the occasion of the departure of three Sharks legends, he confirmed reports that he is poised to make that move.
“I will focus on being a director of rugby, with a head coach coming in,” said Gold.
“It was always my intention to be a Director of Rugby, that was what I understood I was employed to be, but it didn’t work out that way initially for various reasons. I won’t kid anyone, there is a heck of a lot of work that needs to be done, and some of the structures have been neglected and will take time to get right.
“I need to focus on getting the youth structures right to guarantee the pipeline of talent that a union needs to be successful, and there are already plans we are working on. We need to get the age-group teams to start performing, and next year there will be a lot more effort put into the Vodacom Cup campaign.
“As director I see it as my role to work with the various coaches employed by the Sharks across all levels to ensure that the style of rugby we want the union to be known for starts coming through and is understood by all the players.”
Gold said there hadn’t been any advertisements for the position of head coach, but that he had started making a few approaches and that he had a couple of candidates in mind. It is understood that a forwards coach based overseas is one of the targets of the Sharks, but Gold said everything would be announced and made clear in due course.
“There won’t be a major restructuring and I wouldn’t call it a clean out, but there will be changes,” he said.
Gold said that one of the first tasks was to prepare the Sharks for what he said was going to be a daunting Currie Cup season but one where there would be a lot of pressure after the Super Rugby failure.
“I can’t pretend we are happy with the way the season has gone and we need to start getting things right during the coming Currie Cup season. That is going to be a massive challenge as the Lions won’t be losing many, if any, players to the Springboks for the World Cup, we know there is a lot of depth at Western Province, and we saw what the Cheetahs, with their new coach, did to the Bulls in their last Super Rugby match.”
One of Gold’s immediate challenges is to ensure that Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis, together with Willem Alberts and Fred Zeilinga, will be the only players saying farewell to the Sharks at this juncture. It is understood that star lock Pieter-Steph du Toit may still be set for a move back to the Cape to play for the Stormers, while the Stormers and some overseas clubs are said to be on the radar of Bok loose forward Marcell Coetzee.
“We are working very hard at keeping the other players that are rumoured to be going. It’s a complicated situation, and in some instances SA Rugby are involved in the negotiations,” said Gold.
“As you know there are new players that we have recruited that will be coming in next year. There will be a few more, but not many. I think right now the focus should be on keeping the players we have. As I have said, players like Bismarck du Plessis are impossible to replace, so we won’t be looking to do that. We need to back the young players and develop them.
“Yes, that will take time, but we know that professional rugby is an unforgiving business, so I can’t ask for patience. We are just going to have to get on with it and we are ready for the challenging times that still lie ahead for us. But at least we are now already well advanced with our wash up to the season and plans are already being put into place.”