robdylan

Leading the way, setting the tone


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 4 Mar 2015 at 11:08
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

I feel a bit like I end up writing a variation on this theme at least once a season. For those of you who’ve been reading for a few years, it will seem familiar, but please bear with me!

I’d like to start off by pointing out exactly what a strange state of mind the Sharks’ senior players must be in, given everything that’s happened in Durban since 2013. We all know that for a team to succeed, you need a strong and healthy dynamic between the coaching corps and the player leadership; the latter is, after-all, the on-field representative of the former and for a coach’s blue print to translate into success between the four white lines, captain and senior players all need to understand it, believe it, live it and lead it.

Ask Ian Mac just how deleterious it can be to a coach’s plans – and win ratio – if the captain he’s appointed makes the decision to undermine the game plan on the field.

Now, if I were a senior Sharks player, I think I’d be forgiven for viewing each of the new coaching changes thrust upon me with perhaps some level of skepticism and resistance. I’m not saying, of course, that this is necessarily the case, but human nature being what it is, it would be understandable if the players were to have something of a “here we go again” feeling each time the ginger in the suit wheels out a new Director of Rugby with a new coaching philosophy.

At the Sharks we are particularly blessed, too, in that our senior player corps is quite ridiculously talented and can often pull us out of tight spots based purely on their individual ability, even when the team as a whole is not really united and firing as one. That sort of approach to things can explain the inconsistent results that are the bane of our existence, but also the fact that we are forever perceived as a “nearly team” – never quite good enough to win the tournament, yet never bad enough that you feel drastic changes need to be made.

This piece, then, is a fresh call for unity. I don’t know what’s been said behind closed doors regarding the frequent coaching changes, but I do know that Gary Gold has given his word that this Sharks gig is a long-term one for him. The only way we’re going to succeed is for every man in that squad – be they lowly 19-year-old or 50-cap Bok veteran – to get on board with what he’s trying to achieve and implement his plans, to the letter, to the best of their abilities each week. Those senior players must, now, take a step up and show the leadership that we require from them – they must set the example in their own standards of play and discipline while also ensuring that younger members of the squad understand exactly what the coach would want in a particular situation.



53 Comments

  • Huzzah! Well said.

  • Comment 1, posted at 04.03.15 11:17:22 by PTAShark Reply
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  • Good article Rob.

    In what form or way is Brendan Venter now involved at the Sharks?

  • Comment 2, posted at 04.03.15 11:25:21 by Ben Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 2) : he’s the Technical Director. Works very closely with Gary to define and implement the strategy.

  • Comment 3, posted at 04.03.15 11:27:26 by robdylan Reply
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  • Very well put and add the fact that they get paid for this so get on with the job at hand

  • Comment 4, posted at 04.03.15 11:31:19 by benji Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 3) : Is he also with us for the long run or is this still a bit unknown?

  • Comment 5, posted at 04.03.15 11:35:34 by Ben Reply
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  • The Ginger and the Gold.

  • Comment 6, posted at 04.03.15 11:38:17 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • Basically, please play for each other boys. Fully agreed.

  • Comment 7, posted at 04.03.15 11:44:14 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Fantastic article, Rob. I’m so glad that I found this site last year! Here at least, sanity prevails and I enjoy reading the comments too!

  • Comment 8, posted at 04.03.15 11:50:22 by [email protected] Reply

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  • @[email protected] (Comment 8) : thank you Denese! Kind words indeed.

  • Comment 9, posted at 04.03.15 11:56:00 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 5) : He still hasn’t signed a contract, AFAIK

  • Comment 10, posted at 04.03.15 11:56:16 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 10) : Okay, thanks.

  • Comment 11, posted at 04.03.15 11:57:22 by Ben Reply
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  • Are you saying that the captain is undermining the coach by changing the game plan on the field,I can only presume this from your Ian Mac reference,if not then what was your inference and who was that Captain.I sort of remember Mac having excellent relationships with all his Shark’s captains.If my memory serves me right.Francois Pienaar was his Bokcaptain and Tiaan Straus his mid week captain.

  • Comment 12, posted at 04.03.15 12:15:28 by The hound Reply
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  • Also us as supporters to be fully behind our team fully

  • Comment 13, posted at 04.03.15 12:27:07 by Dunx Reply

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  • Hear, hear…

  • Comment 14, posted at 04.03.15 12:45:42 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 12) : Francois Pienaar screwed Mac in that way

  • Comment 15, posted at 04.03.15 12:48:04 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Dunx (Comment 13) : We’re always behind our team, it’s just our weapon of choice that varies :twisted:

  • Comment 16, posted at 04.03.15 12:51:10 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 16) : That is true. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 17, posted at 04.03.15 12:54:19 by Ben Reply
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  • Fully agree,great article Rob….I get the feeling we would see it on the field that very day that the team just ‘clicks’,when GG’s gameplan kicks in 100%,everyone buys into it and it is implemented optimally! But why do I get the feeling that that might only be next year?(with so many seniors leaving Durban after the WC)

  • Comment 18, posted at 04.03.15 12:55:38 by BarendL Reply
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  • I think we need to understand it is very difficult for a team to suddenly move from a territory based kicking game plan to a more balanced plan that has good variation between kicking and ball in hand.

    What I would like to see us trying one or two new things on attack each week. So far we have seen good use of the cross kick – now it is time for something else as well.

  • Comment 19, posted at 04.03.15 13:20:02 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @BarendL (Comment 18) : I have a similar feeling.

  • Comment 20, posted at 04.03.15 13:26:56 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 19) : Also how difficult it must be to have to change gameplan after every coach and then to keep HM’s gameplan in the back of your mind while you have to start afresh with every new coach in Durban,that is why I’m happy that GG have given his commitment to the Sharks,it can only get better from here.

  • Comment 21, posted at 04.03.15 13:34:05 by BarendL Reply
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  • @BarendL (Comment 18) : Best way forward for us fans:

    Celebrate the victories and whatever good we see on the field – and don’t sweat the losses and the hiccups until next year.

  • Comment 22, posted at 04.03.15 13:38:15 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 22) : I fully agree,its damn hard as we always want our team to win,but at the end of the day we have to be realistic and look to next year,with a proper preseason with the regular coach,coaching settled players which he knows will still be there the next year,without the uncertainty of who he will coach after the WC

  • Comment 23, posted at 04.03.15 13:44:46 by BarendL Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 22) : Im with you but the sad part is it will be years before we have so many superstars in our squad again. I havent given up on this season yet. Weve only lost one home game. We are making up for that on saturday. wait and see…

  • Comment 24, posted at 04.03.15 14:06:19 by West Indies Cricket Board Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 22) : Agreed

  • Comment 25, posted at 04.03.15 14:24:50 by vanmartin Reply
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  • It’s a bit like being in a large corporation isn’t it Rob? The more structure changes the more sceptical the workers become. Let’s hope that the players remain positive. Two positives are Brendan and John who have always had the team and players best interest at heart. At least in my opinion.

  • Comment 26, posted at 04.03.15 14:27:59 by coolfusion Reply

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  • I to add that Gary does seem to be committed. Sharks is as good a place as any to make your name as a series winning coach ,even a very favorable place to do so.

  • Comment 27, posted at 04.03.15 14:37:19 by coolfusion Reply

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  • I haven’t given up on this season. I think it will be a tough road, but I can see us making it to the play-offs and I’m hoping that we will be nearing our best by then.

    I’m not too crushed by our start. I’d rather start slow. I can see this group getting much better this year.

    I’m really still hoping that this year will be our year, because I don’t believe in Super 18, the Super should fall away – call it Just 18 or 18. Winning Just 18, after not playing in NZ teams in the regular season, would feel a little empty. Or winning but never having to play Crusaders, Chiefs. I’ll probably feel differently next year, but for now, I still see this as our last chance.

  • Comment 28, posted at 04.03.15 14:38:37 by Letgo Reply
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  • @BarendL (Comment 18) : I thought that’s what happened against the Lions, but alas…

  • Comment 29, posted at 04.03.15 14:58:39 by Spirit of Rugby Reply
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  • I reckon Gary Gold should really be committed there aren’t many Super rugby spots for coaches who fail to make the quarter finals in the Japanese league.
    Reckon this is his last chance,next stop the seat next to Mallet on Supersport.

  • Comment 30, posted at 04.03.15 15:08:27 by The hound Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 22) : Even though I completely agree with you. Isn’t this what we say every year? :twisted:

  • Comment 31, posted at 04.03.15 15:09:33 by Ben Reply
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  • @Spirit of Rugby (Comment 29) : haha,yeah me too,still hopefull though,my heart is screaming 2015 Champs but my head reels me in quickly afterwards!

  • Comment 32, posted at 04.03.15 15:10:31 by BarendL Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 31) : haha,also the last 3 years we have had 3 different coaches,but they never stay for the “wait for next year” part! :cry:

  • Comment 33, posted at 04.03.15 15:12:34 by BarendL Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 30) : I reckon theres only so much you can do with 2-5 exceptional players in your team….then again,you play in a league where every team has the same problem…..

  • Comment 34, posted at 04.03.15 15:15:10 by BarendL Reply
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  • @coolfusion (Comment 26) : John had a wobble, though. The low-hanging fruit of an available Jake White proved just too much temptation for him.

    I think he looked at that situation and saw the promise of a real “quick win” for himself…. a Super Rugby trophy in his first year in charge. It didn’t work and he has to take it on the chin (which I’m sure he has) and consistently put player welfare first, as he’s now doing.

  • Comment 35, posted at 04.03.15 15:31:43 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 35) : ja don’t think they know what’s coming next month so ja they will not always be 100% all there!!!! Maybe it’s a good time to start thinking about next year and just let this year go.

  • Comment 36, posted at 04.03.15 16:30:46 by JD Reply
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  • Thinking about next year, thinking about next year….no maybe not,. I foresee a possible massive rebuilding excercise down that avenue

  • Comment 37, posted at 04.03.15 16:34:31 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 35) : John is obviously the most accountable in this situation but to be fair, myself and I suspect a lot of other fans too, were also pretty caught up in the allure of White’s temptation too. And thinking back on it, probably for the same reason John had – I was hoping Jake could pull off a Super Rugby win (similar to Brendan in his first season in charge of the Currie Cup).

  • Comment 38, posted at 04.03.15 16:39:55 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 37) : don’t think we will lose more than two or three players.

  • Comment 39, posted at 04.03.15 16:41:12 by JD Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 38) : I think we all were.

    I had serious doubts and expressed them in private to some people, but decided to swallow those doubts because I also allowed myself to buy into the hype.

  • Comment 40, posted at 04.03.15 16:41:23 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 40) : We’ll always have the Crusaders win though :grin:

  • Comment 41, posted at 04.03.15 16:44:51 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 40) : I’m just glad he’s gone!!!

  • Comment 42, posted at 04.03.15 16:47:56 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 39) : I could live with that.

  • Comment 43, posted at 04.03.15 16:51:47 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 28) : I’m with you…

  • Comment 44, posted at 04.03.15 17:09:18 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 36) : Not quite yet…

  • Comment 45, posted at 04.03.15 17:11:46 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 39) : if john, Gary band Brendan do their work right, we might not lose too many at all.

    The DuP brothers have already turned down Montpelllier due to Jake. Sure they’ll have other offers, but both seem well settled in Durbs and don’t really want to leave either their farm or their ailing father, from what I’ve heard.

    We will need to do something about the hooker “pile up” behind Bizzie if he doesn’t leave, but that issue may sort itself out.

    Willem is being strongly linked to Toulon, of course. I imagine he might well take that one given his injury problems.

    Otherwise? I dunno…. Frans, JP and Kanko might all look at Japan permanently, then again their split deals work well for them at the moment so not sure why they wouldn’t continue with them.

  • Comment 46, posted at 04.03.15 17:25:33 by robdylan Reply
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  • So, Rob, when are you becoming the mental coach for the team? Would do quite well, methinks…

  • Comment 47, posted at 04.03.15 17:49:18 by T-Shark Reply

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  • @T-Shark (Comment 47) : Hopefully soon.

  • Comment 48, posted at 04.03.15 19:18:00 by Ben Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 46) : Beast?

  • Comment 49, posted at 04.03.15 21:13:14 by pastorshark Reply
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  • The problem all franchises sit with is the unavoidable player exit following the RWC. Expect the same in NZ and Oz – in fact, I believe this is the last RWC the NZ policy will stand to only select players playing in NZ but that is a story for another time.

    Players also inevitably will ‘preserve’ themselves for the show-case event, especially the guys getting on in age who will not get another shot at the event.

    I can tell you there is a lot of positive vibes currently around player contracts and everyone, including all major unions and franchises, working together to keep our top players in SA in the future, especially our young stars. I hope we will have some positive news later in the year or following the RWC.

    In general I can promise you it takes a long time, months, if not years, for a coaching team to instil a coaching philosophy all the stakeholders buys into – it does not happen overnight. You can have Graham Henry or Robbie Deans come to the Sharks they will too take time to stamp their philosophies and style of play onto players.

    My hope for the Sharks is that 60% of their efforts is placed in their feeding structures and 40% to their top team. I cannot stress enough that the top will take care of itself if that what feeds it is healthy and strong.

  • Comment 50, posted at 05.03.15 07:52:55 by Morné Reply
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  • Words of insane wisdom as always :mrgreen:

  • Comment 51, posted at 05.03.15 08:06:27 by JarsonX Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 50) : Agree 100%!

  • Comment 52, posted at 05.03.15 08:28:28 by Bump Reply

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  • Steyn and JPP straight in.

  • Comment 53, posted at 05.03.15 08:29:39 by JarsonX Reply
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