Sharks coach Gary Gold believes the policy of backing youth during the Currie Cup will reap rewards in the long run, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Several talented youngsters have featured prominently during the early stages of the the domestic competition, including Junior Springboks Dan du Preez, André Esterhuizen, Stefan Ungerer, Wandile Mjekevu, Jean-Luc du Preez and Thomas du Toit.
‘Starting the pre-season of the Currie Cup, we needed to pick up the pieces at a time when a lot of Super Rugby players weren’t here, and when there were a lot of distractions in a World Cup year,’ Gold told SARugbymag.co.za. ‘We had to have a look at what we’ve got, and we’ve got some very good youngsters. This is the time to give them a go. There are quite a few players who could be playing U21, but we want to give them a chance at this level.’
Gold said they were continuing an intensive analysis of their recruitment philosophies, and determining what had or hadn’t work in the past.
‘It’s something we’re looking very closely at, but what I do know works, is to back the youth and give them a chance. That might take a couple of years, and people might not have the patience for that, but what I can say is that these youngsters now playing in the Currie Cup are going to be much better players by the end of this season after gaining this experience. We want to give these talented youngsters an opportunity, while having the leadership and direction of some older guys around them.
‘Results are critically important, of course, but these guys have to understand what’s their differentiating factor, and that has to be elements of how they play the game. That has to be their enthusiasm, passion and hunger … What we want is to create a core Sharks group to go forward with.’
Although Gold has retained a hands-on coaching role for the Currie Cup season, he said time was also being made to conduct strategic planning behind the scenes.
‘I love the coaching role, but I do think there is work to be done off the field, and there is a lot of work being put into recruitment plans as well. I want to grow with this team, which I didn’t have the opportunity to do during the pre-season of Super Rugby. I needed this time to know and grow with the players, and so that they could also get familiar with my philosophies. I’ve got to know them a lot more personally, we’ve brought in some new systems of evaluation, and I’m excited about the future prospects. I really hope our supporters will have the patience to stick with us, and when we come good, I believe we’ll be very good for a long time.’
After two wins and two losses so far this Currie Cup season, the Sharks will take on the Pumas in Durban on Saturday.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images