Big Fish

Tread lightly, Smitty, for foes abound


Written by (Big Fish)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 12 Jun 2013 at 09:36
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Incoming Sharks CEO John Smit probably summed up his day yesterday in the best possible way, in telling Ballz Radio’s Darren Scott that he was having “the worst holiday ever”. As the dust begins to settle on a truly momentous day in Sharks history, Smit must, I’m sure, already be wondering what exactly he’s got himself into.

Let’s bear in mind that Smit hasn’t even officially started work yet, hence the holiday quip; he’s only just landed back in the country and is meant to be spending the next few weeks sorting things out at home, ahead of a 1 July start at Kings Park. Thanks in no small part to Nick Mallett and his big mouth, Smit was forced to come in early to deliver as painless a blow to John Plumtree as he could, given the media drama that played out over weekend. I think John was pretty clear in suggesting that he would have preferred to have a proper sit-down with Plum after taking office to explain his decision; but simply couldn’t wait that long given Mallett’s rather unfortunately-timed – and, it seems, misleading – soundbites.

For that, at least, the new CEO deserves praise. It would have been far easier for Smit to not get involved in this one, but knowing the character of the man, that would never have been an option.

We’ve also seen, quite clearly, that Smit is unlikely to enjoy the full and unequivocal backing of the man he’s to replace, Brian van Zyl, whatever may be said. Yesterday’s press conference made it very clear that despite sharing the same old school tie, van Zyl holds little love for Smit. The old bull’s brazen attempts to undermine the new man’s credibility at the very first opportunity are sure to have set the alarm bells ringing for Smit. My reading of the situation is that van Zyl had been working on signing Plumtree up on a two-year extension behind Smit’s back, almost as a bizarre “parting gift” to the man taking over from him.

The message to Smit is clear; take care from whence you take counsel, young man, for there are plenty of leopards lurking and not all will show their spots quite so openly.



45 Comments

  • I’ve been holding a grudge against Mallet since he dropped Teichmann. It has mellowed over the years and he is a world class coach. This crap he pulled brought the grudge back.

    I really hope Van Zyl supports Smit, the last thing we need is extra politics in the Union. I’m sure Smit has the backing of all the players, so that should count for something if push comes to shove.

  • Comment 1, posted at 12.06.13 09:44:08 by PTAShark Reply
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    DragnipurSuper Rugby player
     
  • I think that Smit’s most important job there will be to round up all the various warring factions and try to get them to buy into a single vision and a single goal.

    I speak to a lot of people and if I had to sum up the “general feeling” related to Plumtree, it was very much at odds with what van Zyl was trying to get the board to do.

    The signs here point very clearly to a CEO (and possibly a board as well) who have lost touch with their stakeholders.

  • Comment 2, posted at 12.06.13 09:58:37 by robdylan Reply
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  • Barney’s ability to lead people from different races, religions etc will benefit him greatly. I am sure he will have a struggle on his hands, but that he will get every one in his corner soon. But what Van Zyl pulled is really a nasty trick. He seems like a child that is cross that he can’t play with a certain toy anymore, so he tries to spoil it for the next kid.

  • Comment 3, posted at 12.06.13 10:03:23 by KingRiaan Reply

    KingRiaanTeam captain
     
  • So Mallet’s big mouth actually saved the day. If he never said anything, Smit would have arrived at the office on 1 July ready to have a sit down with Plum, only to discover that the Sharks are stuck with him for another two years.

    Maybe – and this is me dreaming again – a little birdie told Smit what mr. Backstabber van Zyl was busy doing, and Smit outsmarted them by pulling a few behind the scene strings to orchestrate what went down yesterday. (I love my imagination :mrgreen: )

  • Comment 4, posted at 12.06.13 10:22:32 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 4) : Interesting observation, every cloud has a silver lining it seems.

  • Comment 5, posted at 12.06.13 10:36:13 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 4) : Genius.

  • Comment 6, posted at 12.06.13 10:36:37 by David12246 Reply

    ApolloCurrie Cup player
     
  • Interesting times ahead.

  • Comment 7, posted at 12.06.13 10:44:44 by SteelShark Reply
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  • @SteelShark (Comment 7) : good times ahead. Smitty will sort all this stuff out. I’m sure of it.

  • Comment 8, posted at 12.06.13 10:45:40 by robdylan Reply
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  • Agree :cool:

  • Comment 9, posted at 12.06.13 10:49:06 by SteelShark Reply
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  • What Van Zyl did yesterday is not right.

  • Comment 10, posted at 12.06.13 10:52:41 by GreatSharksays Reply

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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 4) : i can live with that story. nice story line for a rugby movie?

  • Comment 11, posted at 12.06.13 11:04:24 by Gerhardt Reply

    GerhardtCurrie Cup player
     
  • The Board may do JS a huge favour and ask vanzyl to vacate office earlier. It is clear what is happening here.

  • Comment 12, posted at 12.06.13 11:13:10 by Gerhardt Reply

    GerhardtCurrie Cup player
     
  • So it must have been Mallett that leaked news of the approach by the Sharks to the press. The only reason he would have done that is to boost his own ego. Glad he is not coming to the Sharks, I was just about getting over the Teichmann debacle, but this made me realise what a chop he still is. As for Plum, I really enjoyed having him coach the Sharks, but I think it is time for him to move on, he was definitely getting stale and the team was not progressing with him at the helm. Can’t have been easy for him to read Mallett’s comments in the papers, but he must have realized the Sharks would be exploring various options with his contract coming to an end. No team could afford not to sound out other potential coaches before the incumbent coach’s contract expires.

  • Comment 13, posted at 12.06.13 11:19:59 by jonnow Reply

    jonnowSuper Rugby player
     
  • Shoddy behaviour from Van Zyl. I saw that press conference on TV and he openly stated “on the record” that if he had it his way he would have extended Plumtree’s contract. So basically he goes against Smit and the key decision makers in front of the cameras. Doos.

  • Comment 14, posted at 12.06.13 11:20:44 by The Great Couch Shark Reply
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    The Great Couch SharkSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Gerhardt (Comment 12) : The board were with van Zyl in offering the extension.

  • Comment 15, posted at 12.06.13 11:27:25 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 4) : Where ther is smoke there is fire :lol:

  • Comment 16, posted at 12.06.13 11:28:14 by markm Reply

    markmVodacom Cup player
     
  • @The Great Couch Shark (Comment 14) : huge pr blunder id say

  • Comment 17, posted at 12.06.13 11:29:19 by Gerhardt Reply

    GerhardtCurrie Cup player
     
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 15) : New broom, new board! :evil: Bring some rugby brains onto the board. How about Teichmann, Andrews & the like coming in? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 18, posted at 12.06.13 11:32:07 by markm Reply

    markmVodacom Cup player
     
  • Fish, Rob et al.

    How can Smittie, who was playing rugby a few weeks ago, and is on holiday now, and is not the CEO of the Sharks, be appointing coaches and DOR’s. It just does not make sense.

  • Comment 19, posted at 12.06.13 11:32:19 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • What I like about the changes that are taking place, is that you can see a very clear intent from Smit and Venter to turn the franchise into a high performance environment. Even though we are always competitive, I don’t think anybody ever thought of the Sharks as a team that can win Superrugby. There was always something lacking – that same thing that is present at the Bulls and Crusaders. I think we are in for a good decade.

  • Comment 20, posted at 12.06.13 11:33:23 by King Shark Reply
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    King SharkVodacom Cup player
     
  • I have to agree with jonnow comment 13, I am so glad we did not end up with Mallet. His ego is simply too big, it would have destroyed the union. How can someone in his position and experience do what he did, “The Sharks approached me but I turned it down, I am happy with my Supersport gig and maybe coach again next year but internationally” is close to what I believe came out of that idiots mouth. Meaning I am so good that I can turn down an offer from the Sharks, even though it seems was not the top dog offer which maybe what put his nose out of joint, I may coach later but only for an international team. Stay on Supersport and making safe comments there I am normally getting a beer from the fridge then so will fortunately miss most of them. Also to share something with the press that is surely confidential. IDIOT. Then Van Zyl to come out with his gem, maybe to soften the blow for Plum, in that case good on you making yourself look like a fool for someone else’s benefit. With Smit in charge off field and Venter on field and the booze issues a storm in a tea cup on the outer fields, I probably will renew my season tickets.
    To Plum bonvoyage good man, you did a really good job at the Sharks just a pity you had to deal with so many injuries and so many idiots in your final year. I hope you enjoyed your 10 years with us.

  • Comment 21, posted at 12.06.13 11:44:29 by markp Reply

    markpUnder 21 player
     
  • Smit is going to need some time to set this particular house in order by the sounds of it. Hope we as bloggers are gracious and patient enough to grant him that.

  • Comment 22, posted at 12.06.13 11:47:57 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 22) : As long as they keep us as fans in the loop re. change happening.

    I think everybody will be patient in waiting for the results when we know which behind the scene changes are being made. Just the odd heads up every now and then will do the trick.

  • Comment 23, posted at 12.06.13 11:59:10 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • @vanmartin (Comment 22) : @FireTheLooser (Comment 23) : I do not think we should be too patient though. I would hate it if there was a Loffie-three-year-plan. BUT I seriously doubt Smit and Venter would allow it.

  • Comment 24, posted at 12.06.13 12:24:13 by King Shark Reply
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    King SharkVodacom Cup player
     
  • Why the need for fans to be patient?
    The Sharks are not in a re-building phase. We have an awesome group of players, most of whom are going to get over their injuries in the near future. With our sad performance in Superrugby not many of our players will be called up to the Bok team, so I don’t believe it is at all unrealistic to expect to win the Currie Cup this year. Patience se moer :mrgreen:

  • Comment 25, posted at 12.06.13 12:37:40 by jonnow Reply

    jonnowSuper Rugby player
     
  • According to Saracens Venter will continue as Technical Director, flying out to London once a month

  • Comment 26, posted at 12.06.13 12:38:34 by slammerboy Reply
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  • @slammerboy (Comment 26) : I’ve asked the Sharks for clarification. That doesn’t make sense to me at all.

    I’m hoping it’s an interim move while he sees out contractual obligations there…

  • Comment 27, posted at 12.06.13 12:46:04 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 19) :
    An official starting date doesn’t mean that the wheels aren’t already turning in the background.And it would be naive to think that any incoming CEO would be hands-off while an incumbent makes decisions that will be effective long after he is gone.

    I hear your concern, but I think you are looking at the wrong person. Van Zyl (who, lets not forget, has done great things for Sharks rugby in the past), should have aligned with Barney knowing that this was going to shortly be his shop to run. The fact that the board apparently reneged on what van Zyl believed they had agreed to indicates that they support Barney’s attitude and approach in any event.

  • Comment 28, posted at 12.06.13 12:52:10 by Big Fish Reply
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    Big FishAssistant coach
     
  • @Big Fish (Comment 28) : Which makes sense, although it does leave a bit of an aftertaste. :|

  • Comment 29, posted at 12.06.13 12:58:05 by rhineshark Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 28) : Of course the board support Barney. Saad and Rosenberg have been behind him from day 1.

  • Comment 30, posted at 12.06.13 13:01:14 by slammerboy Reply
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  • Hang on…

    How is Mallett suddenly the bad guy for being quoted in a paper?

    He was asked a question, he gave an answer.

  • Comment 31, posted at 12.06.13 13:21:56 by Morné Reply
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    MornéTeam captain
     
  • @Big Fish (Comment 28) : I hear you, but how weird is it that the incoming CEO is already hiring and firing guys while not being the incumbent.

    In a perfect world Im sure all would be singing from the same page. It must have been ugly, and I can understand van Zyls reaction – he is clearly miffed and not happy with the way things were done. Its sad that it had to be done publicly though.

  • Comment 32, posted at 12.06.13 13:29:19 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @slammerboy (Comment 30) : Fully agree re Saad and Rosenberg.

    Could Smittie be putty in their hands though? Time will tell.

  • Comment 33, posted at 12.06.13 13:31:15 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 31) : Ha ha, the fickleness of being a Sharks supporter.

    Just hours ago he was still being seen a saviour, and now the villain. He should just have been seen as a villain since Teichs days, less angst that way. :twisted:

  • Comment 34, posted at 12.06.13 13:39:18 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 34) :

    Indeed! :lol:

  • Comment 35, posted at 12.06.13 13:41:03 by Morné Reply
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    MornéTeam captain
     
  • @jonnow (Comment 25) : “Patience se moer!!!” hehehe..Jonnow!

  • Comment 36, posted at 12.06.13 14:08:07 by GreatSharksays Reply

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  • @GreatSharksays (Comment 36) : I like it :)

  • Comment 37, posted at 12.06.13 14:12:07 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 28) : I think that your comment “believed they had agreed” may be the point. Boards generally do not renege, or reverse decisions properly made, so there may well have been a few conditional “subject to’s” in the approval – the obvious one being the incoming CEO’s buy in.

    Politics has always been around in rugby admin which has not always handled the transition from amateur sport to big business very well. The politics have often been a product of inter club rivalry and sometime animosity. Collegians have had considerable influence in the NRU since the rindepest. It seems to me that the Rovers influence is starting to assert itself.

  • Comment 38, posted at 12.06.13 14:48:07 by steve Reply

    Under 21 player
     
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 19) : that was my first comment about this funny crowd down in durban. sharks have become the circus of rugby in SA lately, now it has moved to the management as well

  • Comment 39, posted at 12.06.13 16:35:56 by Gerhardt Reply

    GerhardtCurrie Cup player
     
  • @Morné (Comment 31) : @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 34) : I don’t think it is the leaking of the story that got the Sharks fans de moer in, but it’s more the arrogant way in which he answered the question. Just as a matter of fact i do not like him as I alway believed that he had a huge chip on his shoulder.

  • Comment 40, posted at 12.06.13 16:41:33 by JD Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 23) : Will definitely be interesting to see how the Sharks communicate with their fans going forward.

    @King Shark (Comment 24) : Well if nothing has changed after three years it’s probably safe to consider this whole endeavour a failure :mrgreen: . After our inconsistencies during the Plum era I doubt Smit or Venter would even be that patient.

    @jonnow (Comment 25) : You can’t simply look at the squad and make a claim like that. Once Smit and Venter take over both coaching and management at the Sharks enters a rebuilding phase. That’ll affect players in a myriad of different ways. This shouldn’t be an excuse to end up last in the Currie Cup though, our playing talent alone should guarantee us a top 4 finish.

  • Comment 41, posted at 12.06.13 16:44:17 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 41) : I’d like us to be the most inventive and best-coached side in the Currie Cup. We definitely won’t have the strongest squad, though, so I don’t mind overly if we don’t win it. Plumtree managed to coach the team into the final the last three years in a row, though, so I’d like to think Venter could get at least that far.

  • Comment 42, posted at 12.06.13 16:48:18 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 42) : I’d agree on the best-coached but I’m less sure about the most inventive. Perhaps I’d have more faith with different assistant coaches. Would love to be proven wrong though. Point is, I won’t be throwing any toys from cots should we fail to make the final. The only thing I’d like to see this Currie Cup is a team playing together towards a clear vision.

  • Comment 43, posted at 12.06.13 16:55:43 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 43) : no omelettes without broken eggs.

  • Comment 44, posted at 12.06.13 17:14:39 by robdylan Reply
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  • Rob whose eggs must I break I’m hungry!!!!

  • Comment 45, posted at 12.06.13 18:53:47 by JD Reply
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