Sharks coach: We have created a culture

Sharks coach Sean Everitt says their 2020-21 season has been a success regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s Currie Cup final. DYLAN JACK reports.

The Sharks are set to travel to Pretoria to face the Vodacom Bulls in the Currie Cup final, after coming through a tough semi-final against Western Province at Newlands.

In a pre-match online media conference on Thursday, Everitt was asked to reflect on the challenges the Sharks have faced in 2020 and 2021 and whether he deemed their season successful, regardless of what happens at Loftus Versfeld.

The Sharks were comfortably South Africa’s best team in the early parts of 2020, topping the Vodacom Super Rugby log before the season was called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Coming out of lockdown and into Super Rugby Unlocked, they struggled to regain that same form and were also impacted by several positive tests within their squad, but the Durban side did well to finish third on the log, despite having a number of games called off.

The Sharks have also been given plenty of credit for consistently fielding a team that is among the most racially transformed in the history of South Africa’s domestic rugby, while also creating a culture which allows black players to express themselves.

‘It has definitely been a success,’ Everitt answered when asked to look back on the season. ‘We came together as a new coaching staff and got a new squad of players together. As I said, we have got five 21-year-olds playing in the final on Saturday. So, we have brought youngsters through and have grown our squad. We have rotated our squad and created depth.

‘The pressures effected by Covid have enabled us to use the majority of our squad in games and those players have come through with flying colours.

‘At the end of the day, you have to look at rugby as a whole. You have to look at the culture we have created and the diversity that’s been created in our group. We have also been unbeaten at home and have faced massive challenges, but have come through them unscathed.

‘Here we are sitting at the peak of South African rugby, representing the Sharks in a final. That’s a massive privilege and a reward to everyone involved.

‘Win or lose on Saturday, the Sharks have been successful in my eyes. That’s what counts. It’s not only about winning one game of rugby.’

Photo: Steve Haag

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Dylan Jack