White has a point to prove

2013-03-14 00:00

DISCARDED Springbok coach Jake White will be delighted with the press he has been receiving since returning to South Africa with his Brumbies’ Super Rugby squad.

White and the impressive, log-leading Brumbies are in Durban for Saturday evening’s big game against the Sharks and both teams are preparing for a massive contest.

White, miffed at first being dumped, and subsequently ignored, by SA Rugby after guiding the Springboks to their 2007 World Cup triumph in France, will be determined to prove a point against the Sharks on Saturday and the Stormers next weekend.

Once upon a time (at the turn of the century), and before he broke into the big time, White served as an assistant to successive Sharks coaches Hugh Reece-Edwards and Rudolf Straeuli. Now he is back in Durban with former Sharks and Wallaby wing Clyde Rathbone in his starting line-up.

The Sharks have been going out of their way to praise the self-assured, loquacious White.

Sharks coach John Plumtree said that White had introduced a South African style to the way the Brumbies were playing.

“They are well-organised in everything they do, be it attack, defence or the setpiece. This is going to be a real test for us on the weekend.”

The new-look Brumbies under White were very direct from the setpiece, he said.

“They put a huge emphasis on the advantage line, creating space out wide and they have a clever kicking game. They do several things well and they’re not on top of the log for nothing.”

Springbok and Sharks tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis has also been singing White’s praises.

“He’s a very good coach. You don’t win the Rugby World Cup if you’re not and I can see his influence in the way the Brumbies play.

“Jake is very organised and plans things meticulously. We are going to be up against a very well-prepared side and you can see that in the way they play. Everyone knows where to go and what to do and they have a plan which everyone follows.”

Du Plessis said that White has made a “massive difference” to a young Brumbies squad.

“This is only his second season with them and they’ve come on in leaps and bounds. I think he’ll enjoy being back here, as will Clyde Rathbone, an old Natalian.”

The Brumbies have won three matches on the bounce to go top of the table and White says little will change tactically on Saturday.

“I don’t think you have to change too much going up against South African teams,’’ White told reporters, adding that brutal defence would be the key to victory.

“We use defence to strangle teams and turn the ball over,’’ White said. “We see defence as an opportunity to attack.

“We’ve got some really quick players out wide, so if we turn the ball over and send the ball out wide, there’s no reason why we can’t tear teams to pieces.’’

White, as he did with the Springboks, has also laid a strong emphasis on fitness and it appears to be paying off with the Brumbies yet to concede a point in the second half of their three games this year.

The Brumbies and the Sharks have both delayed naming their teams until today.

A surprise participant in the Sharks’ practice yesterday was Jacques Botes. The Sharks flank was nursing a suspected wrist fracture on Tuesday, but it appears it may have been a false alarm and a final assessment will be made before the team is named today.

Kick-off on Saturday is at 5.05 pm.

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