Sharks turmoil: Siya, Eben step up as Powell picks up pieces: 'There were consequences'

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Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
  • Sharks boss Neil Powell said the franchise had tough internal conversations this week following the fallout from Sunday's 35-0 Cardiff defeat.
  • Former head coach Sean Everitt was subsequently axed 24 hours later, leaving the team in turmoil ahead of Ospreys' visit to Durban.
  • Powell said Springbok leaders Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth stepped up and showed their leadership skills during the tumultuous time.

Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell said the franchise had tough internal conversations this week following the fallout from last Sunday's 35-0 Cardiff bombshell, which saw the back of former head coach Sean Everitt.

Everitt, a popular figure inside the Shark Tank, was sacked on Monday, although the official line was that the two parties parted ways on mutual terms.

Powell said it needed returning Springboks – the country's most influential rugby leaders – Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth to show leadership and get their ship back on an even keel.

Kolisi and Etzebeth, however, were rested for Friday night's game against the Ospreys after playing England at Twickenham last weekend.

"You can imagine how painful and disappointing a 35-0 loss against Cardiff is," Powell told media during a tempestuous press conference on Thursday.

"We realised we weren't good enough and there were consequences because of that and that we're all part of those consequences.

"I was utterly disappointed, knowing that we can be a lot better than we were on the weekend.

"Yes, it was a different week. A lot of words were said in the week but it's now time to put those words into action.

"Guys like Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth were great for us this week and having those Boks back was really good to refocus us again and to make sure that we focus on the job at hand.

"We spoke a lot about what's happened and how we see the next week and that our focus needed to be shifted.

"It was obviously not easy but I think it was important for us to get together as a whole squad of 50 and talk about what happened over the weekend and get to a point where we agree and go forward.

"Yes, the 35-0 was disappointing. We've got to refocus and hopefully be successful in the next game."

READ | Directors in tracksuits: How Sharks' coaching upheaval raises questions over who’s the boss

Although the Sharks tried to shield Powell from the probing questions from the coaching upheaval, he was pressed for answers on what would happen to the ambitious American-owned franchise.

The Sharks underwhelmed in their inaugural United Rugby Championship (URC) season and this term started no better after three defeats and three wins, the worst of them costing Everitt his job.

But the writing was perhaps on the wall for Everitt, whose contract was extended to 2024 last year, after Powell's elevation from defence coach to director of rugby without spending a full season in Durban.

Powell confirmed he would assume both the head coach and director of rugby roles for "the next few months".

He added that the ambitions of the team – who added Etzebeth, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Carlu Sadie, Francois Venter and Vincent Tshituka to their armoured squad this season – hadn't shifted.

The Sharks made no bones about the fact that they wanted to win the URC and the European Champions Cup, which begins against Harlequins next weekend (10 November) at Kings Park.

Before then, the Sharks face Welsh club, Ospreys, at home on Friday night (19:00 kick-off). The Sharks are 12th on the URC standings, while Ospreys lie 14th with only one win from eight.

"I will be assuming the role of head coach until there are further decisions made on the coaching structure," said Powell.

"It's something that obviously happened very fast and I had to stand in on short notice. My dual role will be in place for the next few months.

"The goals are still the same and we had those discussions already.

"We got buy-in from all the players and I think it was important to make the players understand that those goals haven't changed and to get clarity on how we see this week from a mental and focus perspective.

"Will we see the results of it this weekend already? We obviously hope so. But if it's not happening, then we'll keep chipping away and moving in the right direction until we can get the success."

Sharks team:

15 Boeta Chamberlain, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (captain), 7 Jeandre Labuschagne, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler,  4 Vincent Tshituka, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche

Substitutes: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 James Venter, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Nevaldo Fleurs, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg

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