Brendan Venter leaves Jake White a tough act to follow at Sharks

2013-10-29 00:00

BRENDAN Venter, the Sharks’ very own Flying Doctor, has left former Springbok coach Jake White with the toughest of acts to follow when he takes over as the director of rugby at the end of the month.

Venter, who masterminded the Sharks’ famous Currie Cup triumph over Western Province in Cape Town at the weekend, has now stepped down from his position at King’s Park and White will take over ahead of the 2014 Super Rugby competition.

Venter, who has a medical practice in Somerset West and is a technical adviser for Saracens in London, has commuted from Cape Town for the Sharks’ practices and matches for the past three months.

And he has left White with a Sharks squad which is in rude health, strong, vibrant, happy and with the Currie Cup safely tucked away in the trophy cabinet at King’s Park.

Venter was behind the move to sign White as his successor and Sharks CEO John Smit says he wants to keep the good doctor involved in some way.

“Brendan has drastically changed our players’ environment. He had no written contract with the Sharks and we will do whatever we can to keep him involved with us for as long as possible, in any capacity.”

He said that Venter’s appointment was always going to be a temporary one because of the amount of travelling that was involved.

Current Sharks coaches Brad Macleod-Henderson and Sean Everitt would continue in their coaching roles with the Sharks with White directing operations.

Sharks captain Keegan Daniel has also praised the impact that Venter has made in moulding a unified, fiercely determined squad and then hatching a game plan which, in the words of WP coach Allister Coetzee, “took us out of our comfort zone”.

“He has left a lasting legacy in just a few months,” said Daniel.

“There have been a lot of changes in Sharks rugby with John Smit as CEO and new coaches. But from the start Brendan laid out what he wanted and going forward was easy because honesty was there. There was transparency between coaches and players.

“We worked with a squad rotational policy with the idea that teams win matches and squads win competitions,” said Daniel.

He said that in the final Venter wanted the Sharks to play away from Province’s strengths — their crowded defensive line.

The Sharks chose to play in the space behind Province’s wall of defenders by using chip kicks and then pressuring the catchers.

Venter, in turn, has praised the players for implementing the plan — “if we had lost, every­one would have blamed our tactics”.

Venter praised the players’ skill, courage and intensity — and their dedication. He told reporters that on the Sunday after the semi-

final win over Free State those involved in the lineout battle had met and devised a new strategy to negate Province in an area of obvious strength.

He also praised senior Springbok Jannie du Plessis who had broken a bone in his hand before the semi-final and undergone surgery to insert a metal plate.

“He was determined to play and make his contribution. That was special.”

Province forward Michael Rhodes was cited yesterday for a dangerous necklock on Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis late in Saturday’s final. Rhodes will appear before Saru judicial officer, advocate Donny Jacobs, in Cape Town this afternoon.

The irony will not be lost on Du Plessis, who was cited after the semi-final, and exactly a week ago talked his way out of a possible suspension ahead of the final.

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