John Smit on Sharks' Powell-Everitt dynamic: 'I don't think either of them have big egos'

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Neil Powell with Sean Everitt. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
Neil Powell with Sean Everitt. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
  • Former Sharks captain and CEO John Smit believes how the Neil Powell-Sean Everitt working relationship unfolds is vital to their prospects.
  • However, the Rugby World Cup-winning ex-captain also didn't expect either to have "big egos".
  • Smith said the ex-Blitzboks coach would not "come in guns blazing" as this was his first high-level 15s job.

Former Sharks and Springbok captain John Smit believes how the Neil Powell-Sean Everitt working relationship unfolds will be critical to whether they can get their "all-star" cast singing.

Former Blitzbok coach Powell is the Sharks’ new director of rugby, a position that sits above current head coach Sean Everitt, who guided them to an underwhelming quarter-finals finish during last year's United Rugby Championship (URC).

It remains unclear how the pair will navigate their duties but Everitt is currently still coaching the side, who are so far unbeaten on their European tour after two matches.

DEEP DIVE | How SA’S URC teams embraced small, firecracker players once considered outcasts

Smit is well-versed in tough executive decisions after he sacked John Plumtree when he took over as CEO of his former franchise in 2013, a decision he later said was a "colossal stuff-up".

"Plum" had taken the Sharks to the 2012 Super Rugby final but the 2013 season was a disappointment. Smit then appointed his former Bok mentor, Jake White, with whom he won the 2007 Rugby World Cup, as the director of rugby.

Need each other

That appointment also lasted just the 2014 Super Rugby season, with White calling it quits after guiding the Sharks to the semi-finals.

Smit said Powell and Everitt didn’t strike him as coaches with big egos but their relationship was critical to the ambitions of the American-owned franchise.

"It's going to be pretty critical how this unfolds," Smit said during a URC roundtable discussion.

"The most dangerous thing in the world is a man’s ego and that’s the sort of thing that blocks most progress.

"I don't think either of them have big egos, so I think this relationship has the potential to work.

"I don't think the two of them will clash. They do need each other, if you look at the challenges that this big squad brings.

"We really do have to hope that it works because we, talking selfishly as a Sharks fan, don’t want to wonder what could have happened or why they couldn’t get this squad going.

"We really want to see this 'all-star' Sharks squad performing and hopefully, Neil is a part of that."

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 08: Neil Powell of
Neil Powell. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Powell coached his last SA Sevens game against Samoa at the disappointing close of the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town last month.

Smit said he didn’t expect Powell to come into the Shark Tank "guns blazing" considering this was his first 15-a-side head coaching role.

"That will depend on how well it goes in the beginning. We must also bear in mind that, I don’t think Neil can come in guns blazing," Smit said.

"This, to my knowledge, is his first 15s job, and it’s in charge of one of the biggest rugby squads with the most internationals in the modern game at the moment.

"I do think he’s going to suss it out but I don’t think he will come in guns blazing. He’s also got a very different environment.

"In the Sevens, you’ve got an athlete that’s normally on the periphery of the 15s game and has a different body type … and is on a very different remuneration package.

"Now, he’s got a group of players that are extremely well paid, very experienced and extremely successful internationally.

"It’s a far different management set of skills that Neil’s going to have to employ."

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 08: Sean Everitt
Sean Everitt. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Smit added that the exact nature of Powell’s role and duties would also determine how the new dynamic with Everitt would play out.

He made the comparison with White, who is the Bulls director of rugby but assumes all coaching and selection responsibilities, while playing a role in contracting and recruitment.

READ | Bok lock Eben Etzebeth set for Sharks bow on 15 October against Glasgow

Intriguingly, former Bulls head coach Pote Human quit the franchise shortly after White's appointment in 2020.

"It all depends on what Neil’s role is going to be as the director of rugby. The role of director of rugby is thrown around loosely but it has many different meanings depending on which franchise and part of the world you’re looking at.

"[Sometimes] it’s just around controlling the structure of the games, procurement, contracting, way of play and teams in general.

"And there’s a hands-on director of rugby like Jake at the Bulls and he makes the calls and coaches the team," said Smit.

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