Smit dumps Plum in shock move

2013-06-12 00:00

JOHN Smit only officially takes over as CEO at King’s Park in a fortnight but yesterday he turned Sharks’ rugby on its head by dumping head coach John Plumtree.

Smit, who returned to Durban from Saracens in London at the weekend, made the stunning announcement at a hastily-convened press conference at King’s Park.

“John’s contract comes to an end at the end of this year, and I did let him know yesterday [Monday] that we would not be renewing it,” Smit said yesterday.

Smit said that former Springbok centre Brendan Venter will take over as the Sharks’ director of rugby. Venter is currently director of rugby at Saracens.

Plumtree was voted South Africa’s top rugby coach just over six months ago after taking the Sharks to the Currie Cup and Super Rugby finals last year. This year, ravaged by injury, they have struggled and are currently 10th on the Super Rugby log.

Plumtree will coach the Sharks for their final three Super Rugby games after the June break and Venter will then take over for the Currie Cup campaign.

Smit admitted he had contacted Nick Mallett to see if there was a role the former Bok coach could play in Sharks’ rugby. He said it was “unfortunate” that Mallett had spoken out about the contact.

“Brendan [Venter] was always my first-choice. It was an unnecessary way for Plum to hear the news [of his imminent departure] in the media, but I suppose that’s the game we’re in.”

Mallett announced publicly at the weekend that he had turned down an offer, embarrassing the Sharks board, Smit and Plumtree in the process.

Smit yesterday contradicted several of the Sharks’ board members when he said there had been “a lot of consultation in the decision [to replace Plumtree].”

“To do anything on your own would be irresponsible for a team that is this important and that represents so many people.”

Board members on Monday told The Witness that they were totally unaware of any move to replace Plumtree.

Smit said he would have to face the on-going speculation about rugby possibly moving from King’s Park to the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

“King’s Park is our home at the moment and we’ve signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Growthpoint.

“There are many things for me to consider. The fact that we have two world-class stadiums within 500 metres of each other is always going to be an issue until one disappears. And that is highly unlikely.”

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