Sharks hell-bent on ending drought
Jake White has, repeatedly in the past, taken teams from the doldrums to the top of their game. He spoke to Jan de Koning about his goals for 2014.
Jake White has, repeatedly in the past, taken teams from the doldrums to the top of their game.
He took the South African Under-21 from being no-hopers to winning a world title, the Springboks from ranked sixth in the world to No.1 and winning a World Cup, and more recently he took the Brumbies from finishing 13th out of 15 teams in 2011 to finalists last year.
As coach of the Sharks he finds himself in a very different scenario - taking over a team with a proven track record and the current Currie Cup champions.
However, White, in an interview with this website, played down the value of the Currie Cup win last year in terms of Super Rugby form - as they search to win their first title on the SANZAR stage.
Despite having finished runners-up four times (2012, 2007, 2001 and 1996), as well as making the play-offs on four other occasions (2011, 2008, 1998 and 1997) White felt the Sharks' Super Rugby form in 2013 is a much better yardstick.
"If you say they played in the Super Rugby play-offs many times, you have to remember they [the Sharks] came eighth last year," the World Cup-winning former Bok mentor told this website.
"They were fourth among the South African franchises, just above the Southern Kings.
"It depends on how you look at it.
"This group of players, as I said, the Bulls, the Cheetahs and Stormers all finished higher than them [in Super Rugby].
"The Sharks may have won the Currie Cup, and to be fair they played well in the Final, but they lost twice to [Western] Province in the Currie Cup [competition's regular season]."
White said it is nice to have the buzz, the positive vibe and the atmosphere that comes out of winning the Currie Cup.
"However, we are not blind to the fact that we finished fourth out of five South African teams in Super Rugby last year.
"There is certainly a lot of work to be done."
By Jan de Koning