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Committed to turning it around

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 12 Mar 2015 at 13:07
Tagged with : , , ,

I was fortunate enough to catch up with Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold, for a quick chat earlier today.

As passionate fans, I think it’s very easy for us to get carried away, especially when we’re hurting. A common feeling is that the team and coaches might not “get it” quite the way we do, or understand just how bad we feel when the team doesn’t come up to our (often crazy) expectations. You can take it from me, though, that Gold gets it – he understands the pressure, he understands the expectation and he understands the disappointment. Words can often be meaningless, but I genuinely believe that when Gary Gold says he’s committed to turning this ship around – that he’s having just as many (if not more) sleepless nights than we are mulling through the issues and how to fix them – that he means every one of those things.

“I didn’t expect this,” he says, openly. “In Japan I won 23 out of 25 matches. I’m not used to losing; I don’t like losing and if you told me a month ago that I’d be sitting on a one from four record after the first month I wouldn’t have believed it.” Even the best laid plans, it seems, are sometimes wont to be upset and the Sharks were genuinely shocked at just how badly things went wrong in their opening game against the Cheetahs – the one that started the unfortunate spiral in which the team now finds themselves. The team enjoyed a brilliant pre-season and had the best possible preparation ahead of the game. Sometimes, though, things just don’t quite work out between the four lines and if anything, the flawless build up to that game may in itself have led to just a mite too much confidence by the time the contest kicked off. “Credit to the Cheetahs,” adds Gold, “they really did perform superbly on the day and we need to acknowledge that too.”

One thing that the coach will not do, though, is offer excuses. This was a common theme throughout our discussion; Gold is the man in charge, the man accountable for the results and the man who will stick his hand up (and is doing so) when things don’t go to plan. This problem is one that he owns and is committed to fixing and there are no “sacred cows” as far as he’s concerned. “We’ve looked at the way we train, the way we structure our week, the way we approach things within a game, the game plan, everything,” he confirms. Sometimes the answers don’t all come immediately, but the dogged determination to find them at all costs is the thing we need to acknowledge and respect, in this case.

Another point on which he remains firm – and which I respect – is not finger-pointing or placing the blame on his players in the media. “Obviously they are accountable – we all have to accountable – and we’ll take the steps we need to, behind closed doors, to ensure that.” Let’s face it, the players pick up enough flack on social media from the fickle keyboard warrior “fan” corps that the last thing they need is the coaches to do the same and in a lot of cases the information on which fans act isn’t correct in the first place.

“Our scrum didn’t come up to scratch on the weekend,” Gold readily concedes, “but to try and pin that all one one player is obviously ridiculous. That aside, Jannie was rested last week and was always going to come back in for this week’s game; even if Matt Stevens had been man of the match at Newlands and scored 50 points, that wouldn’t have changed our rotation plans.”

Gold also confirmed that maintaining on-field discipline is a key expectation that he places on his players and is one of a number of areas that has enjoyed focus this week; defence, of course, is another.

Good luck Sharks, and good luck Gary. We’re in good hands and we all look forward to a big performance this weekend.


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