New Sharks coach Brendan Venter has insisted that the media focus will not be on him, but head coach Brad McLeod-Henderson.
New Sharks coach Brendan Venter has insisted that the media focus on will not be on him, but head coach Brad McLeod-Henderson.
Recruited by Sharks CEO John Smit, after the two spent time working together with English club Saracens, Venter is keen to stay out of the spotlight and allow McLeod-Henderson to grow into this new role.
“My role is not going to be a high-profile one at all, it will be John and Brad who will be the face of the Sharks going forward and they are the guys who will be doing the media interviews and be in the spotlight,” said Venter to SuperSport.
“There are two reasons why that will be the case. The first one relates to my personal reticence to give media interviews. I know that 95% of the mainstream rugby writers are ethical people, but there are a few who spoil it and I have been burned in the past. It's not so much that as a coach you get misquoted, but rather that quotes often get used selectively.
“The second reason I won't be doing many interviews relates to my objective at the Sharks.
“While I intend to be very hands-on as a coach during the coming Currie Cup season, and will be extremely busy helping devise tactics and operating as a sounding board, I want Brad as the head coach to develop into that role. I am going to be playing a background role helping bring the coaches through and trying to ensure that the right culture is created to enable the team to thrive.”
Venter has likened the influence of Smit on to legendary Springbok figures such as 1995 World Cup-winning captain Francois Pienaar, believing in Smit's ability to be successful.
“When I spent time with John I saw so many parallels between him and Morne du Plessis and Francois Pienaar in the way he lives his life,” added Venter.
“I know it is an old clichÃ©, but it is nonetheless true that if you surround yourself with good people, the rest will follow. All three of them have personalities and abilities that make them incredibly successful not just at rugby, but at life itself.”
Speaking of the work that lies ahead in Durban, Venter expressed his sympathy for former coach John Plumtree, highlighting the need at the Sharks for a new direction at the top whilst also believing that they had been unlucky with injuries during the Super Rugby season.
Venter added that, similar to the model used at Saracens, the foundation of the Sharks squad moving forward would be based around a larger competitive group of players as opposed to 15 stars.
“My vision for the Sharks is that apart from playing rugby we will develop our off-field skills and live successful lives. The bottom line for me, and this is why I compared John Smit to Morne du Plessis and Francois Pienaar, is that if you have integrity you tend to be more successful,” stated Venter.
“I will work with everyone and give them a fair chance to prove themselves. I think the Sharks' recruitment has been done really well in the past. And it is important to stress that John Plumtree never did anything wrong. He was successful as a coach. It's just that John (Smit) is looking for something different, something that goes beyond just rugby.
“It's not just about trophies, although those are obviously important, and they will come if you create an environment that is special.
“There will be a rotational system rather than a top team of 15 as such. It is my firm belief that rugby teams win matches, rugby squads win championships. It will be our ability as a group that will determine whether we are successful, not our strength as individuals. I would rather see the workload divided than have the same team play 40 games in a row.
“I've been through the stats for this past Super Rugby season and there is nothing that really jumps out at you.
“The Sharks conceded the third-fewest tries in the competition, and also scored the third-most tries. There really wasn't anything that was particularly poor, and ultimately I think it was because of the injuries that the team ended up in mid-table.
“As I say, my primary focus is to change the culture and try and bring that specialness to the Sharks that John (Smit) is looking for.”