DURBAN – The Sharks’ future looks to be in rude health if you take note of their “Locked and Reloaded” campaign that is currently underway.
For over two weeks now the Sharks have announced a player a day who has re-signed for them for the next two to three years, meaning they are guaranteed a strong core of talented players right up to the next World Cup.
Player migration to the northern hemisphere is the scourge of South African rugby but the Sharks have managed to keep and secure the majority of their players and this will mean coach Sean Everitt has a good opportunity to build a top team.
So far the campaign has named 17 of 27 players who have committed to the Sharks, including captain Lukhanyo Am and World Cup winners Makazole Mapimpi and Sbu Nkosi to Curwin Bosch, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Jeremy Ward. They have also recently signed Blitzboks star Werner Kok.
The Sharks’ aggressive recruiting of youthful talent gathered momentum when Ed Coetzee took over as chief executive from Gary Teichmann and Everitt succeeded Robert du Preez midway through last year.
“My view on recruitment and building a squad is that you do it from the bottom up rather than top down,” explains Coetzee.
“You first get the best youngsters in the province, and then the country, and you create a high performance environment for them.
“Then you will have the right players with the right team culture coming through the system – we started this three years ago with the Under-19 team that was coached by Sean and captained by Phepsi Buthelezi and which went unbeaten in 18 games, and now many of those players are coming through in the senior side.”
Crucial to the vision of Coetzee and Everitt is signing players that fit in with the unselfish, family-type culture that they see as the foundation for success.
To that end, Coetzee has personally travelled around the country to interview prospective new Sharks to explain what the Sharks are about and what is expected of the players, and also to inform of them of the union will do for them.
Previously, players were recruited via their agents, but Coetzee himself went to Bloemfontein to talk to Ox Nche, to Cape Town for Notshe and to Jo’burg for Madosh Tambwe.
The “Locked and Reloaded” campaign was launched to tie in with the build-up to the resumption of rugby in this country.
When the pause button was hit on the game in March, the Sharks were on top of the Super Rugby table.