The Great Jake White Debate

Cape Town - Jake White sensationally asked to be released from his Brumbies contract this week - and has been widely linked with the coaching job at the Sharks.

Sport24's rugby 'gurus' Herman Mostert and Garrin Lambley discuss why he'll succeed - and fail - in Durban.

Herman Mostert on why Jake White WILL prove to be a success...

I am backing Jake White to achieve success at the Sharks based on his recent track-record in Canberra.

He took the once-mighty Brumbies from being Super Rugby also-rans to almost being crowned Super Rugby champions - and that inside two years.

The men from Canberra had never really threatened for Super Rugby honours in the five years before White joined them - a far cry from the George Gregan/Stephen Larkham-inspired team that won the Super 12 back in 2004.

They finished a lowly 13th on the Super Rugby log in 2011, but when White joined them for the 2012 season, there was marked improvement - seventh spot on the log and only narrowly missing out on the playoffs when they crumbled in their last league game against an inconsistent Blues outfit.

But it was clear the right fundamentals were laid with a young and inexperienced side in 2012 - and this year White took them to another level by reaching the Super Rugby final - a game they perhaps should have won having led the Chiefs 22-12 after 65 minutes.

But the yardstick for success at the Sharks won’t be to just make the final. The Durbanites are yet win the Super Rugby competition despite playing in five finals over the years (if you include the 1994 Super 10!).

So the criteria will be simple: Win Super Rugby, or else...

And can White do that?

I was initially sceptical when he joined the Brumbies after not coaching any team since he won the World Cup with the Boks in 2007.

But what he did with the Brumbies in so little time shows the coaching pedigree of a man who clearly knows and understands the game and believes in his own philosophy.

And at a union like the Sharks - who arguably boast more resources and talent than there is in Canberra - I think he IS the right man to help them finally break their Super Rugby hoodoo...

Garrin Lambley on why Jake White WON'T lead the Sharks to Super Rugby success...

Jake White sensationally quit the Brumbies on Wednesday - reportedly because he’s a grumpy smurf at missing out on the Wallaby job.

Not missing a beat, new Sharks CEO John Smit issued a statement on Thursday all but confirming the former Springbok Rugby World Cup-winning coach would be taking over at the KwaZulu-Natal outfit. Quite how White will fit in with Brendan Venter who was recently appointed Director of Rugby at the Sharks remains to be seen. The saying ‘too many cooks’ springs to mind though…

The SA rugby public will forever be indebted to Jake for winning the 2007 RWC - but it needs to be remembered that we beat a very weak England team in the final - and by some miraculous miracle, the likes of which have never been seen before at RWC level - we managed to avoid playing any of New Zealand, Australia and France!

Jake’s Springbok win record (67%) isn’t that flash considering the Boks’ lofty world ranking and upon closer inspection, his record against his main foes is even worse: France (1 from 4 at 25%), New Zealand (3 from 9 at 33%) and Australia (6 from 11 at 55%).

But that’s at international level, how will Jake perform as a Super Rugby coach in an already competitive SA Conference?

Not much better than the Sharks’ previous coaches is my guess!

True, the record books will show Jake guided the Brumbies to this year’s Super Rugby final, but it must be remembered again that the current Super Rugby format leaves much to be desired - and will be changing as soon as SARU gets their way and has it expanded to include a sixth SA franchise. The Brumbies find themselves in a woefully weak Australian Conference where the Force and Rebels represent a guaranteed 10 points each  in those four conference matches, while the Reds and Waratahs have slipped dramatically in recent years.

Contrast that with the strength of the SA Conference and Jake will have his work cut out for him.

The Bulls and Stormers will provide far sterner challenges and the Cheetahs will be out to build on their impressive 2013 performance where they finished six points clear of the Sharks, while the Lions will be a lot more competitive than the Kings.

Bookmakers have installed the Sharks as joint fourth favourites for the title in 2014, behind the Chiefs, Crusaders and Brumbies - and tied with Stormers - and I’m yet to meet a bookie willing to part with his cash!

Is Jake THAT much better than previous coach John Plumtree? Will he even stick around long enough to guide the Sharks to Super Rugby success? Time will tell, but my gut says NO...

HAVE YOUR SAY: Would you like to see Jake White take over at the Sharks - and if he does, will the Sharks be better off with him in charge? Send your thoughts to Sport24.
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