Sharks coaching panel gets Bok expertise
NEWS: New Sharks coach Robert du Preez is making some big moves.
While Du Preez has limited his player recruitment to the absolute minimum, he has already made some significant acquisitions to his coaching staff.
Top of the list is former Springbok flyhalf Braam van Straaten, who will help the Durban-based franchise with their kicking.
AB Zondagh, a long-time skills coach in the Sharks' junior ranks, have also been 'promoted' to the senior structures.
"We've got a specialist skills guy, AB Zondagh, who is going to be looking after the skills at the union," Du Preez told a media briefing this week.
"We've also got Braam van Straaten to help with the kicking.
"My plan is to call on those specialist coaches,: he said, adding: "I think that's the way forward.
"I'm very open to people who can help us in any way."
Van Straaten, 45, played the last of his 21 Tests for the Springboks against England at Twickenham in 2001.
He also played in well over 150 first class games for various teams, which include the Bulls, Stormers, Leeds and Sale Sharks.
Since he stopped playing, he has been assisting various teams as a kicking specialist, including a stint with the Wallabies that saw them finish third at the 2011 World Cup ad win the Tri-Nations title earlier that year.
Du Preez said that a lot of emphasis will be placed on skills, strengthening and conditioning.
"There's going to be a big emphasis on strengthening the guys, and there's also a massive focus on their aerobic fitness which we feel has been lacking, especially with the way we want to play," he explained.
His rugby philosophy is not necessarily only attack-oriented, but he certainly believes that players want to run rather than defend.
"Perhaps there's been too much emphasis on defence over the last 15 years, but players prefer to play with the ball in hand and play rugby than tackle the whole time."
The most significant signing to the playing squad is French international Clement Poitrenaud.
"We have a bunch of young fullbacks and to a large extent, an inexperienced backline if you take [Bok utility back] Pat [Lambie] out of it, although he will be back for Super Rugby.
"However, Clement is a guy with a huge amount of experience and his first objective is to get into the side, to be the first choice fullback, and then secondly to mentor the young players.
"We've had great success with French players in the past and what I really like about him is that he's spent his entire career with Toulouse where he was born and bred, played with one club all his life and played 47 Tests for France. He comes with massive experience, he's married, settled and speaks good English; I think he's going to be great for us."