Venter was top of Smit's list

Tue, 11 Jun 2013 14:41
John-smit-sharks.jpg630 John-plumtree-sharks-looks Venter-baby-boks.jpg630 Nick-mallett-shouts-630
It's unfortunate how Nick's used his supposed contact

New Sharks CEO John Smit insists that Brendan Venter was his first choice to replace outgoing coach John Plumtree at Kings Park.

Venter was unveiled as the Sharks' new Director of Rugby on Tuesday in Smit's first big move at the helm of the franchise, and the World Cup-winning Bok skipper said that the former Saracens boss was always top of his list.

"Brendan was the first guy I spoke to," he explained.

Reports emerged over the weekend in which former Springbok and Italy coach Nick Mallett claimed he had been offered the job, but Smit explained that it was more of an unfortunate misunderstanding.

"It's unfortunate how Nick's used his supposed contact. There was contact with him to see if there was a role he could play.

"So it was an unnecessary way for Plum to hear the news in the media, but I suppose that's the game we're in," he added.

There is still a chance that there will be a head coach appointed down the line, with Smit saying it was something that was "a high priority in terms of the planning strategy going forward".

Smit is excited about his new role, in which he can continue to contribute to future Sharks successes, both on and off the field.

"This is a very exciting job, Durban has been my home for a long time and the Sharks are the only team I've played for in South Africa, so they are close to my heart," he explained. "So if there is some way I can contribute positively, this job certainly is a platform for that."

Outgoing CEO, Brian van Zyl will continue to provide guidance where necessary before his official retirement at the end of February, 2014, which Smit values greatly.

"I'm fortunate, it's daunting taking over from someone like Brian van Zyl, he's been here for such a long time and the Sharks are what they are because of having someone like him in the CEO role. I do have his experience to call on and I'm grateful for that; it will be a massive learning experience for me," he said.

The 35-year-old is determined to turn the Sharks into the best franchise possible.

"What we will be doing is assessing when we are, whether we are on par with the other teams, behind them or ahead of them, and then we'll spend some time putting a strategy together so that we're never on par or behind but always in front, and how we can sustain that year after year," he added.