It is nice to work with a group that won titles
There is good reason for Jake White to be optimistic ahead of the Sharks' 2014 Super Rugby campaign.
It takes just a quick glance at the playing roster to realise why bookmakers have rated the Sharks among the favourites to win the tournament - just behind the two-time defending champion Chiefs and the seven-time champion Crusaders, and alongside the 2013 runners-up Brumbies.
The Sharks have also been installed as favourites to displace the Bulls as the South African conference winners.
It is the depth and an array of Springboks at White's disposal that have resulted in the optimism that the men from Durban will finally go all the way - after being runners up four times and reaching the play-offs on another four occasions.
"One mustn't underestimate the fact that this is a really talented squad," White told this website in an interview, ahead of their first pre-season outing - against Saracens at Allianz Park in London on Saturday, January 25.
"There are a lot of Springboks, and a lot of these guys are winners," White added.
He said the players know what it takes to go all the way, as they have been there and thereabouts in major tournaments.
"A guy like [Sharks captain] Bismarck [du Plessis] has won an Under-19, Under-21 and senior World Cup, while he has also won the Currie Cup," White told this website.
"That just puts things into perspective," the Sharks' Director of Rugby said, adding: "A lot of these guys, like Jannie [du Plessis] have won a couple of Currie Cups and a [senior] World Cup."
At many of his previous coaching jobs White often had to build up a team from scratch, yet this time he has a team that won the Currie Cup in 2013 and is loaded with internationals.
"It is nice to come and work with a group [of players] that have long rugby careers and have won titles," the World Cup-winning former Springbok coach told this website.
"It is not only that they are talented players, there's a lot of winners here as well, which is nice when you take over a team."
His array of Boks include Jannie du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Lourens Adriaanse, Bismarck du Plessis (as captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Keegan Daniel, Jean Deysel, Ryan Kankowski, Charl McLeod, Patrick Lambie, François Steyn and Odwa Ndungane.
By Jan de Koning