Thuggery not OK, says Smit

2015-04-12 15:00

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Sharks CEO John Smit is holding out an olive branch to fans by conceding that their anger at recent poor performances and the team’s poor disciplinary record is justified.

The Sharks recently suffered a humiliating 52-10 home defeat at the hands of the Crusaders and three players, Bismarck du Plessis, Frans Steyn and Jean Deysel have incurred red cards and long suspensions.

“I think [the fans’] frustration is justified. Fans want to win just like us and taking 50 points hurts everyone, so to expect them not to be angry would be naive,” said the former Springbok captain, who is in his first year as chief executive of the provincial team he previously played for.

“The message from us is a simple one. We want to make it up to them, not by talking, but by playing.”

Smit also expressed his disappointment in the string of players sent off.

“This possibly is the biggest frustration for everyone – and I can tell you, we as a union do not in any way condone thuggery.

“We have purposely taken our time to make a call on what the consequences for these players will be, as it needs to set the precedent for every Sharks player from now on. I speak specifically on the foul play red cards, as this is not something a team as clean as ours over the years has planned for,” he said.

Smit addressed the fact that Sharks players had become targets for provocation in an effort to have them dismissed from the field.

“I think every team in the world tries to put Bissy [Du Plessis] off his game. I can say that only time will tell whether Bissy has learnt this lesson or not.

“Great players need to show great restraint at times, but in the heat of combat it is difficult for some.

“Frans, I believe, is a very different scenario; he plays very hard, whether he is tackling, running or kicking.

“He certainly does not have an elaborate history of foul play,” Smit noted.

He threw his weight behind new coach Gary Gold.

“I wanted Gary here from the start of my tenure, as I believe wholeheartedly in him and his ability to take this squad to great heights.

“He has only been here eight weeks and is copping some unfair criticism, but I guess those are the joys of coaching in a rugby-crazy country.

“I know he is an experienced-enough coach to realise this and, when we start winning again, all of these current critics will fade away. I trust Gary and his team to get this right and will assist wherever needed – except if it’s to make a [playing] comeback,” Smit quipped.

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