- The Sharks were in Super Rugby pole position before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, playing an attractive rugby brand.
- Head coach Sean Everitt is described as an affable and honest character who "doesn’t have a big ego."
- Pat Lambie was part of the 2010 and 2013 Currie Cup-winning Sharks sides, and the team that made the 2012 Super Rugby final, but said this year’s crop impressed him.
Former Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie said he would have "absolutely loved" playing in the current Sharks team that mesmerised opponents this year before Super Rugby was abruptly cut short.
Head coach Sean Everitt’s ensemble thrilled rugby fans from the minute they beat the Bulls in Durban in round one to the last match before the coronavirus pandemic intervened, a thrilling 24-14 defeat of the Stormers at Kings Park.
They were on top of the combined standings, with three Australasian tour wins already in the bag, and on a high-speed highway to a home playoff and quite possibly the No 1 overall seed and they did it all playing the kind of rugby that sends pulses racing.
Since breaking through in 2010, Lambie was part of some amazing Sharks teams in the last decade before his career was tragically cut short last year. The 2010 and 2013 Currie Cup teams immediately spring to mind as well as the 2012 Super Rugby finalists that made it all the way to the death despite some incredible odds.
This Sharks team – which features dazzling dancers Aphelele Fassi, Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am working in beautiful concert with forwards Ox Nche, Hyron Andrews and Sikhumbuzo Notshe – impressed their kicking consultant, Lambie.
"I would have absolutely loved playing in this Sharks team," Lambie said.
"It’s a really happy team, it’s a winning team and they were playing some exceptional rugby. The backline is absolutely lethal and the forwards have played out of their boots.
"Together (forwards and backs) they’ve put in some solid performances. It seems like the players are enjoying what the coaching staff are asking them to do and they are all buying into the plan.
"I guess that’s why they were successful in Super Rugby before it was cut short."
When Everitt replaced Robert du Preez in the coaching booth, it was like a vacuum cleaner had replaced a grubby old broom. Everitt swept the team clean of simmering locker room unhappiness and transformed both the game plan and the personnel.
For a long time Everitt was overlooked for the Super Rugby job; filling in at Currie Cup level, coaching the backs or acting whenever the Sharks were mid-crises, before getting relegated back down to coach juniors.
Those who knew him, however, understood that his vision for the game was equal to any of the big names around and the 2020 season gave everyone a meaty glimpse of it.
Lambie, whose first coach at the Sharks ranks was Everitt, said the coach’s personality endeared him to the players he mentored.
"He’s very easy to get along with and he likes to see the positive in things," said Lambie.
"He’s honest and so he’s got a good relationship with all the players. When players trust you, they want to perform better and keep improving every week.
"Sean has the right balance between having fun and taking things seriously. There’s a time to work and there’s a time to play.
"He has a very good understanding of the game and the way he presents his ideas to players makes them believe in what he’s trying to do. Players like knowing where they stand and knowing that the coach wants what’s best for them and for the team.
"The biggest thing, though, is that he doesn’t have a big ego and he’s a likeable guy."
Everitt’s effortlessly egoless approach to managing his players has even caught the attention of players from opposing teams, such as former Bulls flyhalf Manie Libbok, who opted to take his talents to the East Coast.