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Leading the way, setting the tone

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 4 Mar 2015 at 11:08
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

I feel a bit like I end up writing a variation on this theme at least once a season. For those of you who’ve been reading for a few years, it will seem familiar, but please bear with me!

I’d like to start off by pointing out exactly what a strange state of mind the Sharks’ senior players must be in, given everything that’s happened in Durban since 2013. We all know that for a team to succeed, you need a strong and healthy dynamic between the coaching corps and the player leadership; the latter is, after-all, the on-field representative of the former and for a coach’s blue print to translate into success between the four white lines, captain and senior players all need to understand it, believe it, live it and lead it.

Ask Ian Mac just how deleterious it can be to a coach’s plans – and win ratio – if the captain he’s appointed makes the decision to undermine the game plan on the field.

Now, if I were a senior Sharks player, I think I’d be forgiven for viewing each of the new coaching changes thrust upon me with perhaps some level of skepticism and resistance. I’m not saying, of course, that this is necessarily the case, but human nature being what it is, it would be understandable if the players were to have something of a “here we go again” feeling each time the ginger in the suit wheels out a new Director of Rugby with a new coaching philosophy.

At the Sharks we are particularly blessed, too, in that our senior player corps is quite ridiculously talented and can often pull us out of tight spots based purely on their individual ability, even when the team as a whole is not really united and firing as one. That sort of approach to things can explain the inconsistent results that are the bane of our existence, but also the fact that we are forever perceived as a “nearly team” – never quite good enough to win the tournament, yet never bad enough that you feel drastic changes need to be made.

This piece, then, is a fresh call for unity. I don’t know what’s been said behind closed doors regarding the frequent coaching changes, but I do know that Gary Gold has given his word that this Sharks gig is a long-term one for him. The only way we’re going to succeed is for every man in that squad – be they lowly 19-year-old or 50-cap Bok veteran – to get on board with what he’s trying to achieve and implement his plans, to the letter, to the best of their abilities each week. Those senior players must, now, take a step up and show the leadership that we require from them – they must set the example in their own standards of play and discipline while also ensuring that younger members of the squad understand exactly what the coach would want in a particular situation.


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