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It’s always darkest before the new broom sweeps in the dawn (or something)

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 14 Jun 2013 at 11:25
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

Not the best headline I’ve ever come up with, you’ll agree, but since it’s Friday, I hope you’ll look past that and read a little further. It’s been a hell of a week for everyone involved with Sharks rugby and I think we need to take a few minutes to pause, reflect and figure out where we’re actually trying to get to.

Let me preface this by reiterating, just in case it’s necessary, that I am fully behind John Smit and the changes that he is making at the Sharks. A very strong culture of “good enough” seems to have pervaded that organisation over the years, a feeling that as long as we’re “sort of up there every year”, that we’ll be fine. Smit’s vision, as far as I can understand it, is different. He wants the Sharks to consistently be the best, to be the undisputed leaders in everything that they do. I understand that there are people who perhaps don’t buy into that vision and are comfortable with the old, free-wheeling, laissez-faire Sharks culture. That was the Banana Boys culture, the “have a go hero” mentality that won the Natal side many fans in the amateur era, but only so far as they continued to be underdogs.

Smit wants the Sharks to be a rugby powerhouse. He doesn’t like it that the Bulls are better than us in every meaningful metric. He wants to change that. And I support him.

Now change never comes without casualties. This is a fact of life. A fair bit of energy is being expended within the “old boys club” of former players loyal to John Plumtree, on slating the new CEO for doing what he felt he had to do. That’s understandable, I guess, because loyalty is an admirable quality, but I’d like those players to be loyal to the Sharks family as a whole, too. Where were these guys, with their soundbites and pithy comments, when the team was struggling and fans were leaving the Park in their droves? Where have those players been while the man in the street has been tearing his hair out and weeping tears of frustration because his beloved team has lost yet another final, failed to win yet another trophy? Have they perhaps been coaching club sides? Getting involved in rugby development? Doing anything?

No, I think we need to accept that what Smit wants to do is going to make him unpopular in some circles, but that he’s unlikely to be deterred by that fact. Over the course of his career to date, John Smit has shown a remarkable ability to get people to work together, despite their differences. He’s a people person and a born leader and he’s just the guy we need to take us forward. These next few months are going to be bumpy, I’m sure, as players, coaches and administrators all figure out whether they fit into the new picture or not. If we keep our eyes on where we want to be, though, we will be fine. It’s a time for focusing on the big picture, in other words.

John Smit, welcome to the Sharks. Welcome home. Do what you have to do and we’ll support you.


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