Five former players on what's gone wrong at the Sharks and how they can put it right.
OLLIE LE ROUX (former Sharks and Bok prop)
'It's very difficult for a team to have four different coaches [Brendan Venter, Brad McLeod-Henderson, Jake White and now Gary Gold] in two years. The Sharks need to create a new team culture, but Gold never had a chance to do that as he only arrived in Durban [from Japan] shortly before Super Rugby started. In saying that, Gold needs to step up and take control of his team because it's evident he isn't in control. Look at the Jean Deysel incident – the player was ill-disciplined not only because he was frustrated but because of the lack of culture in the Sharks camp. The Sharks just need to follow a simple game plan, nothing fancy. Focus on the basics and they will improve.'
CORNÉ KRIGE (former Stormers and Bok flank)
'The Sharks had a bad start to the season and when you lose it's tough to reverse the situation. It's a matter of what Gary Gold wants to achieve and working towards it. The Sharks have quality coaches. Gold and Brendan Venter have a wealth of experience but Gold had no time to incorporate his ideas, and there's no time to do it now as there are games every weekend. It won't be easy for the Sharks to turn things around, but they should try not to be distracted by the media and supporters and rather focus on establishing an effective brand of rugby, executing it and avoiding further suspensions. Coaches cannot be blamed for the players' ill-discipline – it's the players' responsibility. I'm sure they [Bismarck du Plessis, Frans Steyn and Jean Deysel] regret putting their team in a difficult position.'
MARK ANDREWS (former Bok lock and No 8)
'The players had limited time to work and gel with Gary Gold before Super Rugby started. As a result, no culture could be created and that creates confusion. Sometimes they kick the ball away when they should keep it, for example. If you don't have a strategy, you'll lose. With the regards to the ill-discipline, the players are frustrated because they do not know what the coach expects from them. This unsettles them and the off-field issues are brought on to the field. Look at Frans Steyn – he looks angry and grumpy when he plays.'
JOHN ALLAN (former Sharks and Bok hooker)
'The players are confused as to what style of rugby they should play. They are struggling with the transition from Jake White to Gary Gold, and the confusion is causing frustration. Another factor is the World Cup. Senior players are more worried about and focused on what will happen later this year and don't really care about the current Super Rugby campaign. It's common practice during a World Cup year. As for the Sharks' disciplinary issues, coaches cannot take the rap for players' reckless actions on the field. These okes know they'll be targeted and taunted, yet they retaliate. It's stupid and unsavoury behaviour. The Sharks are in an evaluation phase and it's virtually impossible things will change for the better this season. But in Gold and Venter they have coaches who can strike the required balance between senior players and new young talent. By the end of the season, they'll have to work out which players to cut, and identify which ones to add to their books, as they build towards next season.'
WERNER GREEFF (former Stormers and Bok fullback and centre)
'I don't think much has gone wrong for the Sharks, it's just a matter of poor leadership. Up until Bismarck's red card [against the Chiefs], they had played well. But what happened in that game [Frans Steyn was also red-carded] was the turning point. Coaches aren't responsible for players' transgressions, but when it becomes a trend, questions have to be asked about management's ability to stamp their authority. At the moment the Sharks look like a rattled, disturbed and disjointed group. If anyone can turn their season around, it's Gary Gold and the sooner he gets them to settle down, the better.'
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images