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How much more low-key can a major announcement be as the Sharks confirmed that former captain Gary Teichmann is the new CEO? The announcement was done on the franchise’s twitter feed. But maybe that suits Gary Teichmann, who, as a player, was never about fanfare, flash and fame, but rather about getting the job done no matter how dirty and bruising the task. The news that he replaces John Smit as CEO was a badly-kept secret after Rapport newspaper broke the story on Sunday. Teichmann has something that Smit lacked – business acumen, having run his own company. Smit, who described the job as “not for sissies”, admitted he was totally inexperienced coming into the CEO position immediately after quitting rugby. He didn’t find it easy making tough, unpopular decisions like getting rid of coach John Plumtree and then Jake White. The CEO will always be measured by the financial success of a company, and right now the Sharks are struggling. Some tough and unpopular decisions await Teichmann. The job will be dirty and bruising. But he’s used to that. He is also hugely respected by the players, the fans and the business people of KwaZulu-Natal. He might be the man to turn the Sharks’ fortunes around. – David O’Sullivan
By Grant Shub
Cape Town – In an exclusive interview with Sport24, former Sharks skipper Gary Teichmann discusses the Sharks’ leaky defence, poor crowd attendance and the clash with the Hurricanes on Saturday.
Sport24: You’ve said that there are two types of rugby players – the game breakers and the grafters. Explain why you fell into the latter category during your playing career.
Gary Teichmann: Game breakers are players who can do something special at any given moment, whereas the work rate of the grafters in the game is way higher. I was the type of player who was less flamboyant, but who would put in the hard yards and lead by example.
Since dispensing of John Plumtree’s services, Sharks fans have endured a rollercoaster Super Rugby ride. What do you believe has gone wrong behind the scenes?
Gary Teichmann: The change at boardroom level and the comings and goings of coaches since Plumtree’s departure has had a big effect. The players appear to be caught between game plans. They played a conservative, defence-based game with Jake White at the helm and under Gary Gold the emphasis has been more on attack. To me, it looks like a team that is not really sure of how they want to play the game and when you lose, your confidence is eroded. Brendan Venter taking the pre-season and Gold coming in late was far from ideal. While the Sharks have already leaks more tries than the whole of last season, their attacking options haven’t been that great either. For me, defence is about attitude and confidence, whereas attack is something that players need to train really hard at in order to perfect.
In his book John Mitchell said, “I strongly suspect the Sharks are running out of money, which could be problematic for the game in this country.” Your opinion?
While I can’t comment on the financial side, as I don’t have the figures in front of me, you simply can’t expect the finances to be flowing when season tickets and crowd attendance on match day is not what the union had hoped for. In terms of the number of fans coming through the turnstiles, it’s certainly not looking good for the Sharks. I believe the problem stems from the Sharks not investing enough in youth, which was never an issue in the past. As a province, I feel we have taken our eye off the ball in terms of youth development. I believe John Smit needs to forge a vision and a plan of action, because that is all loyal Sharks supporters are asking for. However, I must stress that there is no quick fix.
The Sharks have announced the signing of Jacques Potgieter. Your take?
I would contradict myself if I said it was a great addition, because I believe we should be focusing on the youth. I know for a fact that there are quality youngsters coming through the ranks. One such example is 19-year-old Daniel du Preez. I’m not suggesting Potgieter is a bad player, but it’s time for the Sharks to rebuild and start bringing quality youth products through. Young players should be given more opportunities. The youth also have the positive effect of keeping senior players on their toes. If there is no quality youth coming through, then your senior players are not put under any real pressure.
Gary Teichmann confirmed as new Sharks CEO. He was their 8th man for the job…
— Barney Simon (@BarneySimon) July 20, 2016
The South African player drain post-World Cup 2015 is inevitable. However, how can we stem the tide and retain the core group of our player pool?
The South African Rugby Union has to think outside the box to keep our top South African talent. The way we have contracted players in the past has not been correct. However, what I believe is that Saru is now going to own more of the player than the union. In my view, that will stand us on a better footing for international rugby and that’s what it’s really about. The New Zealand Rugby Union has contracted centrally for a long time. My question is why have we taken so long to change it around? Moving forward, Saru has to own the major portion of a player in the best interests of South African rugby.
Bismarck du Plessis has recently relinquished the captaincy. Give us your take and explain what qualities a leader of men must demonstrate both on-field and off.
The first mark of an effective captain is that you have to have the respect of your fellow players. I believe that you are on a hiding to nothing if you don’t. You can’t demand respect, you have to work to earn it. Secondly, the relationship between the coach and the captain has to be very tight. I had that with Ian McIntosh and Nick Mallett, until towards the end. You have to be on the same page and strive for the same objectives in the best interests of the team. Bismarck is a great player, but perhaps he was a better captain under White, because the latter was more dictatorial. There isn’t a right way or wrong way to captain a side. There was a huge difference between how Francois Pienaar captained the Springboks and how I did. Francois came across exceptionally well in team talks and was a motivational leader. However, if I had tried to copy his captaincy style, I don’t think I would have been successful. Being an emotional captain is not a bad thing, but I tried to lead from the front and hoped that other players would follow suit. I was inspired by Wahl Bartman’s quiet but effective form of captaincy. Bartman really let his rugby do the talking. As a leader, I wasn’t big on giving lofty speeches before a game and relied a lot on my senior players.
On-field discipline has proved a problem for the Sharks this season, having incurred three red cards and three yellows. What does sound discipline come down to?
First let me say that we were just so well-disciplined under Ian McIntosh that we didn’t need any team protocols in that regard. But jokes aside, I believe discipline is all about setting standards. Mac always stressed to us as a team that we just couldn’t afford to lose a player during a match. However, we also had some fiery characters in our side which I think is crucial, because if a team has 15 Pat Lambies who are cool, calm and collected, they will also struggle. A successful team needs a combination of both types of personalities. Fiery characters just need to be kept in check by more composed players.
The Sharks tackle the table-topping Hurricanes. How can they be beaten?
The Sharks have to close down the Hurricanes’ space, as the hosts are deadly in broken field. The Sharks’ defensive line has to be so strong if they have any chance of winning the game and they must make their first-time tackles. The fact the Sharks have missed the most tackles this season – 243 – underlines their fragility on defence. When I was still playing for the Sharks, there were phases when we were losing and our confidence was low, and in those instances we would always work on getting our defence right. If your defence is strong, from there you can create opportunities. As a defender you have to put the pressure on the attacker and it has to be on your terms. I believe whichever team dominates the area between the defensive line and the attacking line will win the match. – Sport24
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.