Lifting the lid on Jake’s plans

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, In the news, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 12 Sep 2014 at 09:32
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

Writing for IOL, Durban journo Craig Lewis bagged Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White for an in-depth chat about exactly what his plans are for the union.

In the article, which you can read here, White gives more insight than he’s done anywhere to date on exactly what it is that he’s looking at – and it makes for rather encouraging reading.

White may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but if there’s one thing he does understand, it’s the value of good structures and succession planning and while the senior team is being left to “go their own way” in Currie Cup this year, with rather mixed success, if one looks at the overall health of the union going forward, it’s hard not to agree that White’s time is being spent in the right areas. After all, by his own admission, he’s not likely to stick around for much more than two years in total, so when it comes to looking at junior rugby structures, there’s no time like the present for him to get started.

Among the points Jake raises in the article are the following:

His role is not just about the senior team winning – he needs to ensure that there is a pathway that players and coaches can follow from junior rugby through to the top level. The Sharks cannot afford to continue buying “ready made talent” each year and have to develop from within.

He wants the Sharks environment to be a “point of difference” – this is something John Smit has pointed out too. The culture around the Sharks should be such that it attracts and retains players, despite more money often being on offer elsewhere. Based on current talk, there is much work to do in this area.

Junior coaching needs more focus – the fact that junior coaches need to be identified and appointed earlier in the year and given more time to prepare thier teams. Also in the spotlight is how well juniors are prepared for senior rugby, both from a conditioning and professionalism point of view.

That he’s working on a team for next year – both from the perspective of weighing up the available talent (playing and coaching) but also figuring out what each needs to concentrate on between now and February next year in order to have the best possible team for Super Rugby.

Reading between the lines on the last point, I get the feeling that White is probably very much on the look out for players – and perhaps even coaches – to bolster his team for next year. I’d say there’s a very real risk that certain people within the Currie Cup outfit are in danger of playing their way out his plans at present, but whether I’m right on that score remains to be seen.


  • Good to see…in essence – it seems – this year is boot camp for the Sharks franchise, and we should realistically expect our soldiers to see action from next year onwards.

    And he is clearly not on holiday.

  • Comment 1, posted at 12.09.14 09:54:47 by FireTheLooser Reply
    Assistant coach
  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 1) : look, if there’s one thing you don’t have to worry about, it’s Jake’s work ethic

  • Comment 2, posted at 12.09.14 10:02:36 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • I didn’t really doubt all that and am encouraged by what I read. I will just repeat my mantra in recent weeks: patience…

  • Comment 3, posted at 12.09.14 10:13:04 by pastorshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Administrator
  • Junior coaching needs more focus – the fact that junior coaches need to be identified and appointed earlier in the year and given more time to prepare thier teams.
    Does this mean that there is a new coach every year/ season.

  • Comment 4, posted at 12.09.14 10:13:18 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the SubtleAssistant coach
  • This is very encouraging to read.

  • Comment 5, posted at 12.09.14 10:24:27 by gregkaos Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    gregkaosTeam captain
  • So basically the CC this year is a write off and he is more concerned with the Junior coaches and structures than he is about the results in the Juniors etc. I dont mean to sound harsh and im sure there are plans etc but the old saying ‘ talk is cheap’ kinda comes to mind here. Until tangible plans are in place and results are shown this all doesnt mean very much. Yes planning etc is good and takes time, unfortunately in this world we live in time is very short and action plans rather than boardroom talk are valued. So yes things may be happening behind the scenes, unfortunately we as the paying public have to judge on face value

  • Comment 6, posted at 12.09.14 10:34:28 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 4) : yes, in the past there has been, pretty much.

    Just from memory


    2014 Fleming
    2013 Kayser
    2012 Fynn
    2011 Strudwick
    2010 Everitt

    2014 Kayser
    2013 Fynn
    2012 Everitt
    2011 Everitt
    2010 de Bruyn

  • Comment 7, posted at 12.09.14 10:35:43 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : Just glad to see that the rumors spread by some journalists are in fact false, and taking care of the backroom workings at the Sharks was always the obvious thing for Jake to do during CC.

  • Comment 8, posted at 12.09.14 11:23:06 by FireTheLooser Reply

    Assistant coach
  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 8) : what rumours?

  • Comment 9, posted at 12.09.14 11:23:28 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • Isn’t our current performance doing massive reputational damage? It may well be that management has written off CC as a second rate derby but we the fans still regard it fondly. We have gone from SA’s ONLY HOPE (S15) to SA’s GREATEST JOKE (cc). Just before this CC I bragged to people how we may not have won every title every season but since our promotion back to the premier we have been probably the most consistently successful team. Do they even care what they are doing to their support base?

  • Comment 10, posted at 12.09.14 11:26:59 by coolfusion Reply

    coolfusionTeam captain
  • @coolfusion (Comment 10) : a valid question.

  • Comment 11, posted at 12.09.14 11:28:28 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • Nice to work on the Juniors but remember its the A team that fills the seats and brings in the money and the fans. Why are you neglecting us this CC?

  • Comment 12, posted at 12.09.14 11:28:46 by coolfusion Reply

    coolfusionTeam captain
  • I say swop BMH for John Mitchell go and ask the university to make a trade. Or get Brendan Venter back. QUICK!

  • Comment 13, posted at 12.09.14 11:30:10 by coolfusion Reply

    coolfusionTeam captain
  • Well, so much for at least a bit of patience…

  • Comment 14, posted at 12.09.14 11:40:20 by pastorshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Administrator
  • The other important point IMO is that he talks about an individualized training program for his super squad – looking at each player’s problem areas in skills, strength and speed.

    My concern at the Sharks is not Jake himself, but rather the quality and experience of his assistant coaches. I believe the recipe for success in super rugby is a quality SQUAD combined with a quality coaching TEAM.

  • Comment 15, posted at 12.09.14 11:55:00 by Bokhoring Reply
    BokhoringAssistant coach
  • @coolfusion (Comment 13) : hoom-hom, don’t be hasty now….

  • Comment 16, posted at 12.09.14 11:55:28 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • Patience is fine but come on BMH is all over the place. No plan on his side it seems. Also I don’t mind if we lose to province or Lions but they guys we have lost to? Come on how has there been any form of consistency. Unless I have been watching a different game there is NO sign of the coach or the team learning or improving not even slowly (for that I would have patience). One can be very patient during a disaster and all it will mean is that you will keep calm while everything explodes, but things will still be exploding and the damage still remains or you could sound a warning bell and try to minimise the damage or get out of the way.

  • Comment 17, posted at 12.09.14 11:56:08 by coolfusion Reply

    coolfusionTeam captain
  • Good to see that at least there is a plan behind the scenes (perhaps a method to the madness!) My question tough is, how much patience are we looking at? I mean, in real terms, when are we “allowed” so say enough is enough. On the one hand you realise that building lasting structures and an attractive environment takes time and will not just happen overnight. But on the other hand, at what time will we no longer be accepting this explanation as an excuse? A fine line I would say..

  • Comment 18, posted at 12.09.14 12:02:13 by Another Nick Reply

    Another NickSuper Rugby player
  • @coolfusion (Comment 17) : These problems we see now have been with the Sharks for years now. We have managed to hide these at times by having individuals like Deysel / Alberts / Frans Steyn available that could use their physicality to generate momentum plus by using a kicking game plan.

    Now it has just hit us big time.

  • Comment 19, posted at 12.09.14 12:11:18 by Bokhoring Reply
    BokhoringAssistant coach
  • @coolfusion (Comment 10) :
    You must remember that every union goes through this period of ‘teething’ in their lives. A period of rebuilding and experimenting.
    Sure, the fans may not enjoy it but it has to happen at some point.

    With all the Boks out of the CC, the Sharks have to try and work out whats best for them, considering that the Boks who are out of the CC now, may well be out of the union totally after 2015.
    Essentially, in my mind, the Sharks are experimenting now to prepare them for a Union without some of their biggest stars in the past…Beast, Bissie, etc etc.
    Rather it happens now in a watered down CC than being suddenly faced with it a year down the road.

  • Comment 20, posted at 12.09.14 12:17:57 by John Galt Reply

    John GaltCurrie Cup player
  • To be honest I don’t really care that much about the Currie Cup – been there, done that. I want a Super trophy in the Sharks cupboard. And to do that we need to change the way things are done at the Sharks – it has not been working. We see the same poor skills and decisions year after year – resulting in the same results year after year.

    I get highly pissed off after each Currie Cup game, but after a few days I realize this is not what is important. It is important that the whole system changes, and that is going to take time.

    My main concern for the long term plan is do we have the coaching TEAM (across the board) that can execute this plan?

  • Comment 21, posted at 12.09.14 12:18:11 by Bokhoring Reply
    BokhoringAssistant coach
  • The freaking Bulls had a system in place that got them three super rugby trophies, plus scoring many more tries during that period than the Sharks could manage.

    The Sharks seem to rely on the brilliance of individuals – it is time we have a system where second tier players can slot in without you even noticing it.

  • Comment 22, posted at 12.09.14 12:21:57 by Bokhoring Reply
    BokhoringAssistant coach
  • To be fair … the bulls just had some more money than the sharks and possibly one or two lucky moments.

    There system revolves around buying every youngster and then buying senior players. Its not very developmental

  • Comment 23, posted at 12.09.14 12:33:04 by byron Reply

    byronSuper Rugby player
  • @byron (Comment 23) : I disagree. Luck does not get you three super trophies.

    They bought a lot of junior players, but they also had a specific way of playing suited to the rules at the time. It seemed everyone in the union was on the same page there.

  • Comment 24, posted at 12.09.14 12:38:07 by Bokhoring Reply
    BokhoringAssistant coach
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 24) :

    Luck gets you at least one super trophy!

  • Comment 25, posted at 12.09.14 13:29:56 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    LetgoAssistant coach
  • Finally we have someone who has the guts to step back and start working on the real issues.

    Rebuild. It’s loooong overdue!

  • Comment 26, posted at 12.09.14 13:31:54 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    LetgoAssistant coach
  • @Letgo (Comment 25) : Please don’t remind me – still have not figured out how to get the cork back into a champagne bottle.

  • Comment 27, posted at 12.09.14 13:33:40 by Bokhoring Reply
    BokhoringAssistant coach
  • Personally, I think this plays more to Jake’s strengths than actual coaching does. I’d be happy if he concentrated on this full time and the Sharks looked at alternative options for a head coach. Just saying.

  • Comment 28, posted at 12.09.14 13:38:20 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling SongTeam captain
  • @robdylan (Comment 9) : I saw a few articles on some websites stating that Jake is on holiday.

    To me, that means he is not working, away from the tank, slirping Piña coladas next to the beach.

  • Comment 29, posted at 12.09.14 13:39:09 by FireTheLooser Reply

    Assistant coach
  • @Culling Song (Comment 28) : Agree!

    Plenty of coaches able to coach a team, very few men are able to build a dynasty.

  • Comment 30, posted at 12.09.14 13:41:51 by FireTheLooser Reply

    Assistant coach
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 27) :

    Yeah, sorry. :sad:

  • Comment 31, posted at 12.09.14 13:43:29 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    LetgoAssistant coach
  • An observations followed by a question:
    - John and Jake could have bought themselves and the Sharks a lot of goodwill by volunteering this information on their own at the start of the CC instead of Craig Lewis having to go dig it up. Could have made for a great PR campaign in my opinion and was an opportunity missed. Sharks should be very careful of not reverting to the old regime’s way of dealing with media and supporters. Keep us in the loop, it’s to your own benefit.

    - BMH and co are working towards a more running orientated game plan. Is this with next year’s Super Rugby season in mind? I’m slightly worried that we may be juggling different game plans for Currie Cup and Super Rugby. And by slightly I mean very. :grin:

  • Comment 32, posted at 12.09.14 13:47:39 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    vanmartinAssistant coach
  • @Culling Song (Comment 28) : I don’t think you’re far off on this but at the same time I ask, if you may only be sticking around for two years, how effectively can you put the correct structures for coaches and players in place?

  • Comment 33, posted at 12.09.14 13:51:21 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    vanmartinAssistant coach
  • @vanmartin (Comment 32) :

    Jake white has never been unwilling to implement a running game plan, what he does not believe is that you can implement it successfully if you aren’t able to lay the ground work and do the basics right, which I agree with.

    Go look at some highlights of previous teams Jake coach, they always start out more structured, but always ended up dangerous on attack. (Boks, Brumbies).

  • Comment 34, posted at 12.09.14 13:58:35 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    LetgoAssistant coach
  • @vanmartin (Comment 33) : As effective as building contractors are at building structures which stay standing for decades after they’ve left. ;-)

  • Comment 35, posted at 12.09.14 14:01:46 by FireTheLooser Reply

    Assistant coach
  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 35) : Except a building is very static, whereas a rugby franchise is dynamic and ongoing

  • Comment 36, posted at 12.09.14 14:08:52 by Bokhoring Reply
    BokhoringAssistant coach
  • @Letgo (Comment 34) : You’re misreading my question. It’s not a question of whether Jake can implement a running game but rather one of whether he will in the next SR season. Nonetheless, let’s continue with that line of thought because it is interesting. If a kicking/territory based game with solid set-pieces is considered the basics, can we honestly state that we’ve gotten that right? I’d argue that we haven’t and based on that, if this truly is Jake’s roadmap (solid basics -> running game plan), we haven’t yet earned the right to forge ahead with a running game plan.

    @FireTheLooser (Comment 35) : @Bokhoring (Comment 36) : It’s an ambiguous metaphor to start out with in that it depends on your experiences with building contractors and I’d agree with Bokhoring that it probably isn’t a good fit for rugby. :grin:

  • Comment 37, posted at 12.09.14 14:33:12 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    vanmartinAssistant coach
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 36) : The people moving inside the building is not static, and as long as they do the necessary maintenance to the structure, and use the structure the way it is intended to be used, it will last for years, barring any major external forces.

  • Comment 38, posted at 12.09.14 14:33:32 by FireTheLooser Reply

    Assistant coach
  • @vanmartin (Comment 37) : Well JW would rank as a Master Builder….as apposed to your typical Bakkie Builders.

    Buildings are built for human habitation and/or human use…the same goes for the structures being implemented by JW, it is there to facilitate the growth of sportsman as well as the union.

  • Comment 39, posted at 12.09.14 14:36:47 by FireTheLooser Reply

    Assistant coach
  • I think lack of information may well be what makes the fans nervous. We don’t see them bringing in experienced talent as a stop gap. We don’t see stability in the pairings. My greatest issue is that we have known for a while now that this depletion was coming with bok duty and players moving, surely the coaching and management should have had that on the meeting agenda since 2013? How come it seems that we have been caught short? CC is still important to us fans and it is important to maintain especially since we are cup defenders. Why do we all get the message ” we don’t seem to have a real answer for you right now please come back next year” We want curry cup now please. or should we stop supporting till next year when our franchise decides it will work on this problem again? BMH the beginning of a CC season is not the time to start working on a new game that time was last year already. The middle of a CC is not a time to find your feet with pairings and struggle with skill and player shortages. We all know about attrition and its effects but you started out with this “maak-’n-plan” mentality. What must we do switch the tv off or rather watch another franchise that is interested in playing in this CC untill Jakes long term investments pay off? Bad planning bad timing and bad communications. Meanwhile, there is a CC afoot just in case you were wondering, and were not in it.

  • Comment 40, posted at 12.09.14 14:43:51 by coolfusion Reply

    coolfusionTeam captain
  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 38) : What I am trying to say is that as opposed to a building, it is much easier for the next builder to rip up the entire structure and build an entirely new one if he does not believe in it.

    We trust Jake will put sensible structures that the next DOR will see the benefit of keeping.

  • Comment 41, posted at 12.09.14 14:45:54 by Bokhoring Reply
    BokhoringAssistant coach
  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 39) : ‘Structures’ is a very vague term but if it’s anything like the structures that need to be put in place to build an effective community or corporate organisation then two years is not enough time, especially if you aren’t doing it full time and mentoring others to hand over to after you’re gone. Still, it’s better than doing nothing. This is of course all based on the assumption that Jake won’t renew his contract after two years which may not be the case and makes the entire argument moot.

  • Comment 42, posted at 12.09.14 14:48:23 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    vanmartinAssistant coach
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 41) : A la Xander Janse van Rensburg. My precise concern.

  • Comment 43, posted at 12.09.14 14:51:00 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    vanmartinAssistant coach
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 41) : I would hope that the whole idea behind the amount of money spent on JW is to implement structures which will be used for at least the next decade.

    I believe the structures implemented by JW will be kept in place as long as long as JS is coach. Future coaches and DoR’s will be appointed according to their ability to excel under these structures.

    @vanmartin (Comment 42) : JW is implementing structures which he believes in and which he has seen work during his time as coach (so I would imagine)….so once again, he is not starting a process of trial and error, but rather building using standard “building” practices which has worked around the world.

    I can’t see why one would be required to constantly babysit these structures, they will require tweaking and maintenance, but the management should be capable of doing this within the pre-defined parameters.

  • Comment 44, posted at 12.09.14 14:58:10 by FireTheLooser Reply

    Assistant coach
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 21) : That is pretty much how I see it…

  • Comment 45, posted at 12.09.14 17:01:11 by pastorshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Administrator
  • JW might have plans for structures but nobody questions that his tenure will maybe be another year or two.

    A new Director of Rugby will implement his own strategy and the Sharks will start all over again.

    Because of his short stay he should focus on delivering/developing a team of senior players and winning some trophy’s.

    Great teams take’s years to build.

  • Comment 46, posted at 12.09.14 18:45:03 by Observer Reply

    ObserverVodacom Cup player
  • @coolfusion (Comment 10) : While I understand your point, being the GREATEST JOKE is a bit of an exageration :mrgreen: …at the very least, the Bulls and the Cheetahs, who are behind us on the log, must be GREATER JOKES right now… :twisted:

  • Comment 47, posted at 12.09.14 22:37:03 by pastorshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Administrator

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