The more I think about this Reece-Edwards move, the more confused and concerned I become. I don’t feel that this bodes at all well for the Sharks Super 14 campaign.
The part about it that worries me most is the talk (which I’ve heard in a number of places) that Reece-Edwards is being lined up to take over as Currie Cup coach this year. Looking back over the former fullback’s coaching career, you’ll soon discover that he is most valuable when concentrating solely on backline tactics. The consensus seems to be that Reece-Edwards’ man-management skills are nowhere near good enough for the role of head coach of a professional team.
Now on the face of it, Reece has been appointed to the current Super 14 coaching team in exactly the right position, that of backline consultant, but what worries me is that it is an appointment that has been made very late in the day and I start to wonder whether Plumtree himself actually had any say in the matter. After all, Chris Boyd is the man who’s meant to be running the backs, so why has Reece been added to the mix at the 11th hour? Another question that needs to be answered – if we’re looking for a replacement coach for the Currie Cup, how has Reece-Edwards suddenly leapfrogged so many other candidates who are already in the system, including Grant Bashford, Deon Kayser and (my personal choice) Sean Everitt?
I might be oversimplifying things here, but Sharks teams that have Everitt in the coaching mix tend to look settled and happy, whereas the last time we saw Reece-Edwards in control, the wheels fell off quite spectacularly, with politics and in-fighting the order of the day. Sure, it’s easy to blame Ollie le Roux for what happened in 2000, but who’s to say that Reece will do any better managing the current crop of egos, including a notoriously high-maintenance pair of brothers from the Free State? While Reece is acknowledged as a poor man-manager, Everitt has the respect and admiration of everyone who’s ever played under him and is reputed to be one of the best in the business when it comes to this oft-overlooked skill.
Concentrating on the immediate problem, though, I see a very real possibility that we will see the Sharks squad dividing at the earliest opportunity. Plumtree, Chris Boyd and those loyal to the old coach on one side, with the young bucks rallying under Reece on the other. If there is any sign at all that the coaching staff isn’t all on the same page – and that may well be the case if Reece-Edwards’s appointment was forced on Plumtree – the players will pick up on it immediately and naturally gravitate towards whichever faction they feel offers them the most stability.
A strong leader on the field might be able to prevent this happening, but I simply don’t see any signs that Plumtree intends to hand the captaincy to John Smit. My gut-feeling is that this ship is going to sink with poor bewildered Johann Muller at the helm, powerless to do anything about it.
Plumtree is widely rumoured to be leaving the Sharks at the end of the year anyway and must be a hot favourite for the vacant Hurricanes coaching job. Whatever the case, the Sharks will go into the inaugural Super 15 with a brand-new coach, but whether that coach is Reece-Edwards, or a more experienced foreign coach head-hunted in remains to be seen. John Mitchell’s name is one surfaces time and time again.
Could my fears be nothing but a bad dream? I sure as hell hope so.Tweet