Jake ‘fell into our laps’

2013-10-08 00:00

WORLD-RENOWNED rugby coach Jake White had fallen into the Sharks’ lap, CEO John Smit said yesterday, dismissing speculation that he had head-hunted the former Springbok mentor.

Smit, in confirming White’s appointment on a three-year contract yesterday, said the Sharks’ current director of rugby, Brendan Venter, had been behind the move to sign the former Brumbies coach as his replacement.

“It was a happy coincidence and worked out well,” said Smit. “As much as it seems that it was a happy fairytale with me chasing down Jake, it was Brendan who pioneered the idea.

“Brendan had bumped into Jake on a flight and, after a discussion with him, felt that he would be the right guy to take over from him.”

The heavily extended Venter has a medical practice and is also a consultant with London rugby club Saracens.

“I guess nine flights a week wasn’t something Brendan was going to do for five years,” said Smit. “I think it just shows his maturity and stature and what he wants for the Sharks. He believes that Jake is a world-class coach who can take the union to another level.

“Opportunities like this don’t come around too often and we’re the lucky team to acquire his services and everyone is very excited about him adding to the plan that’s already been put in place [by Venter].”

Smit said that current Sharks coaches Brad Macleod-Henderson and Sean Everitt would continue in their roles.

White, who was the Sharks assistant coach in 2000, said that he never thought he would be returning to Durban to rejoin the union.

“When I was coming back from Canberra for a holiday, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be sitting at a press conference next to John Smit [his old captain], talking about coaching with him.”

He said it had been time to leave the Brumbies for family reasons, and he and Venter had discussed his options.

“It’s really a fairytale for me. I started here in 2000, and to get back into the Sharks is more in my comfort zone. It’s a really special time for me, to come back here.

“I have a CEO who has played 100 times for South Africa, he knows how rugby works and that’s the exciting thing. John said he wanted me to have fun here, not to feel like there is a noose around his neck. And that is a completely different environment to the one when I was last in South Africa. I don’t take it lightly having John as my boss. He’s a guy who understands rugby, he knows exactly where he wants the Sharks to go and he loves this place.

“The important thing is not how long I stay or when I leave, or how long Brendan stays, but how good this organisation will be in 10 years from now.”

White said that when he had been at the Sharks he remembered how the ideas of coach Ian McIntosh were passed down through the various teams.

“My focus will be on getting the Sharks right and then making sure that what works well for us gets passed down to the other coaches.”

He said that he was still keen to coach at Test level.

“John understands that. I’d really like an opportunity to coach one of the best teams in the world again.

“I’m committed to the Sharks and it wouldn’t be a case of leaving them in the lurch. We’ll talk when the World Cup comes in 2015. If there aren’t any opportunities, then I’ll stay here and I hope I would have done enough for him to renew my contract.”

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