Sharks not distracted by White’s departure

Sharks’ assistant coach Brad MacLeod-Henderson says that Jake White’s departure from the Currie Cup champions Union on Monday will not be a distraction.

It has widely been reported that South Africa’s 2007 World Cup-winning coach had a fall-out with the union, although the statement announcing his departure said he was “freeing himself up for any international coaching and consulting opportunities” and was returning to Cape Town to be closer to his family.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, MacLeod-Henderson revealed there was no bad blood between them, saying he had learnt a lot from White, who was at the Sharks’ helm for just under a year.

“I always got on very well with Jake, we had a good relationship,” he said. “It was a big announcement (Monday).

“We had a good chat about it. We got addressed by our CEO (John Smit) and we spoke about it.

“And then in the afternoon before our training session we spoke to the players and said ‘we have a big game coming up and the Currie Cup is still up for grabs, and we’ve got to be determined to keep our hands on the Currie Cup’.”

MacLeod-Henderson has been head coach for the Currie Cup, which the Sharks are defending following their success last season.

“We all enjoyed working with Jake,” he said. “His time here was great and I think everyone learnt a lot. He’s a very knowledgeable man, he’s been around the world coaching rugby at the highest level, so it was great to have him involved.

“I was very fortunate. It’s great to be sitting in an office next to someone with that amount of experience. You could pick his brain, see what he thought about things, so it was a great experience.”

For the Sharks’ players, the announcement came as a major shock as they prepared for their meeting with the Golden Lions in Durban on Friday.

“It came as a surprise, but there’s never a good time for such an announcement,” veteran loose forward Jacques Botes, the most capped Currie Cup player in the competition’s history, said ahead of what will be his final game at Kings Park during a 10-year stay in Durban.

“The positive thing is that Jake wasn’t so involved with us in the Currie Cup.

“It’s different if your head coach decides to move on, so we’ve just stayed focused on what we need to do.”

Marco Wentzel, the former Springbok lock who has been an important player during this season’s campaign, felt that White’s departure was just part of the game.

“It’s part of sport. Players come and go, and next week everyone will forget about it,” he added.

“No one is bigger than the Sharks brand, no player or no coach, so no matter what has happened, the Sharks brand will go forward.”

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