Sharks Academy head Etienne Fynn says success is not only about talent

2013-12-13 00:00

FORMER Springbok prop Etienne Fynn has been appointed as the new head of the Sharks Academy, reports Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.

Fynn, himself a former Shark and current Sharks U21 coach, takes over as academy MD from Hans Scriba, who has taken up a position with the SA Rugby Union (Saru).

“I’m extremely excited, it’s a new challenge that I’m really looking forward to,” said Fynn. “It feels like I’ve come a full circle, having played rugby at schoolboy level in KZN, playing at a junior then senior provincial level, I coached at junior and senior level, the latter in terms of Vodacom Cup and scrummaging, now being in charge of looking after young men.”

His philosophy of success provides important lessons. There will always be aspirant professionals who fall through the cracks, who don’t go all the way, who are instant success stories or who may take time to reach the top. Marcell Coetzee, for instance, failed to gain selection for Craven Week whilst still at school and he is now a Sharks regular and a Springbok.

“It’s all about an ethos of perseverance, hard work and dedication,” Fynn explains.

“Talent is a very small part of the make-up of the ultimate professional. Anyone who wants to be a successful, long-term [a 10-year] career as a professional, he has to have those three components. He has to be dedicated and work very hard. There will be ups and downs as well — talent is a very small part of it.”

The academy provides a very important stepping stone to a life of professional rugby, but it’s not a simple process.

“The primary aim of the Sharks Academy is to produce future Sharks, but at its core, I think if you concentrate on developing decent people, good young men, the end product takes care of itself,” said Fynn.

“We don’t believe in quick fixes, it’s all about serving your time in terms of ticking the boxes. And generally, over the last 13 years, we’ve observed that the boys that come through successfully and have long careers are those who have fulfilled the requirements necessary and served their time.”

Fynn’s advice to aspirant youngsters who want to attend the academy comes back to the three basic building blocks he spoke of earlier.

“Firstly, do you want it? And secondly, it’s not about the glory, because often the picture we see on TV doesn’t portray the hard work that it took to get there, as well as the emotional highs and lows that those players have been through. It’s also about the sacrifices necessary in order to fulfil the dream. And then the dedication to becoming the best rugby player he possibly can.”

On a personal level, Fynn’s aims as the new academy MD are to continue its success. “Essentially, I want to build on what’s come before me. Hans Scriba and my fellow staff have certainly built a magnificent academy here, we are often taken by pleasant surprise when our peers in other provinces tell us what a good job we’re doing. We strive to be the best we can at our jobs and are encouraged by the words we receive from others.

“The academy is something the Sharks and the KZN family can be very proud of and so I aim to build on that in an inclusive manner, with discussion and the buy-in of all role-players.”

Fynn (40) played two Tests for the Boks in 2001.

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