• ‘Mitchell would be ideal for Sharks’

    SARugbymag.co.za talks to five former Sharks players about Jake White's decision to step down as director of rugby and who should replace him.

    MARK ANDREWS

    On Jake quitting
    'I think Jake was frustrated at having to walk into an office every day as a director of rugby rather than onto the field as a coach. His role with the Sharks was a lot more than coaching. It would have been tough for Jake to be passionate about the Currie Cup and looking after the academy structures, after being so successful on the international stage. Jake needs an international post, as he will struggle to drop down the rugby ladder when he has achieved so much at the top. It highlights the differences between being a director of rugby and a coach.'

    On who should take over
    'I think John Mitchell would be the ideal man for the job. He has a great rugby brain, has coached all over the world and now calls Durban his home. He is on our doorstep and has shown he still loves coaching by getting involved in local varsity rugby earlier this year.'

    OLLIE LE ROUX

    On Jake quitting 
    'I think there must've been unhappiness in the camp. Something must've happened in the boardroom for it to end in such a manner. You could see during the Super Rugby season that all was not well between Jake and his players. Jake is a great coach, who did wonderful things with the Sharks squad, but his coaching style is limited. I think his relationship with [CEO] John Smit probably got him the job in the first place, but he was never going to take the Sharks to the next level. Jake always had his eye on an international job. He's a man with a plan, so he probably has another job already.'

    On who should take over
    'It's a tough one. They need a strong character to fill that void. John Mitchell or Rassie Erasmus are ideal candidates, but I don't think Smit will take that route.'

    JOHN ALLAN

    On Jake quitting
    'It's a good move for both parties. The Sharks can now get someone new to help build a future for the youngsters at the Sharks. Perhaps this job wasn't Jake's passion, as he has already coached at the highest level. He can now be a free agent before and after the World Cup, when there are a lot of international coaching vacancies.'

    On who should take over
    'Brendan Venter did well last year, so maybe the Sharks could bring him back. They could also keep their current coaches and then appoint someone else after the World Cup.'

    ROBBIE KEMPSON

    On Jake quitting
    'It was clear from the outset that he wants to coach internationally. His stint with the Sharks was temporary and John Smit knew as much when he appointed Jake. It will be tough for the Sharks to replace someone of Jake's stature. He leaves a massive void. It definitely didn't come as a surprise, as he left the Brumbies in similar fashion, but the difference is he left a structured squad behind for [current head coach] Stephen Larkham. The Sharks are in a bit of turmoil at the moment and that won't change overnight. It takes two to three years to build a team, so the next coach will have to come in and start the rebuilding phase. With the time he has available, Jake will play a lot golf at Steenberg, maybe even link up with Nick Mallett to hit a few balls. But on a serious note, I doubt he will have left the Sharks without something else already lined up.'

    On who should take over
    'It all depends on the Sharks' philosophy going forward. Between them, John Smit and [KZNRU president] Graham MacKenzie will have to decide whether they are going to back the youthful [Brad] McLeod-Henderson or if they want to bring bring in another autocrat like Jake.'

    WAYNE FYVIE

    On Jake quitting
    'I don't know the ins and outs of the situation, but his resignation, if there actually was one, is disappointing. Jake started something great at the Sharks, but one season is not long enough to leave a mark at this level. The break-up is unexpected, especially when you take into consideration the longstanding and successful relationship between Jake and John Smit. I didn't expect him to quit midway through his contract. Jake left the Sharks in a better state than when he got there. But one can't really measure the impact he made at the union on the basis of one season. Therefore it's probably best for the Sharks to get someone in who is willing to commit and focus solely on them, someone without immediate international ambitions. It was always Jake's intention to leave the Sharks for a role with a Test side. A year out from the World Cup, Jake's name is now in the hat. He'll be at next year's World Cup, whether it's as a coach or a consultant.'

    On who should take over
    'I think the suits at the Sharks should stick with Brad MacLeod-Henderson. He could do a great job with the players. But from the pub talk I've heard, Brendan Venter is also in with a shout to return and his expertise would add a lot of value going into next year's Super Rugby campaign.'

    Why Jake left Sharks

    Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

    Post by

    Simon Borchardt