Sharks are a broken Ferrari

Sharks are a broken Ferrari

John Smit compared the Sharks to a sports car without a gearbox while sternly assessing their struggling Vodacom URC campaign. DYLAN JACK reports.

Smit, who served the Sharks as player, captain and chief executive officer, was talking during a Vodacom URC media round table discussion as the tournament enters the last six rounds.

The Sharks already find themselves out of the playoff race, after winning just two of their 12 games under returning head coach John Plumtree.

This is despite boasting a star-studded squad, with eight World Cup-winning Springboks, including Test centurion Eben Etzebeth and captain Lukhanyo Am.

“As much as it pains me to say, the Sharks are on the bottom end of it,” Smit said. “They have a magnificent-looking team. It’s like walking through a parking lot and seeing a Ferrari, but as you peer through the window, it has no gearbox. That’s the reality.

“Why? It used to be my problem for three years when I was CEO there. It’s such a complicated and loaded question.

“We have a coach in Plum who has come back. He knows the culture of old. He really understood what the Sharks were about, pre-equity deal. He’s had really little ability to pick players or management, so it’s difficult to blame him. He has inherited everything that he’s got.

“Bottom of the log with that squad does beg for answers that all of us desperately want and I wish I had them. That’s a big part of my life and the Sharks badge is ingrained into my soul.

“To watch them struggle is difficult. The win over the weekend [against Ulster] was magic. It’s probably the only game I haven’t been able to watch and it’s the one they have played the best in.

“You could ask me, Plum, [CEO] Ed Coetzee, anyone, I’m not sure they would have an understanding of how you can be so far behind with such an unbelievable group of players.

“The only way to address it is to accept that this URC campaign has been an absolute disaster. We have some great players coming in next season. Plum will have a full year of understanding what he’s got, who he’s going to let go, who he’s adding and will hope there’s some kind of realignment next year.”

Smit also gave his input on the other three local URC teams, saying he was most impressed by how much the Lions have got out of a smaller player budget.

“We’ve had two franchises that have promised a lot, that have contracted in a great fashion and have also delivered in the Stormers and the Bulls. They continue to be competitive and have been so over the last two or three years.

“If you look at the Lions, their investment and how they’ve gone about it. They have an ability to beat big teams with more than double their player bill.

“They are a great unit and a difficult team to beat, as we saw last weekend. Any one of us would rather be in that space, you are playing a bit of chess from a contractual point of view and spend your money wisely without overspending. Yet you are still able to create a competitive team.”

Photo:Ryan Byrne/INPHO/Shutterstock

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