Durban – Newly-appointed Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White was recommended to his position by incumbent Brendan Venter, the CEO of the Durban franchise said on Monday.
“As much as this looks like a fairytale with me chasing Jake down, it really was something pioneered by Brendan,” John Smit said.
“Ironically, it was Brendan who came to me and said he's bumped into Jake on a flight, had a discussion and decided Jake would be the right guy (in the long term).
“It just shows the maturity and stature Brendan has, and what he wants for this union. He sees Jake as a world-class coach and one he thinks can take the union to another level.”
The former Springbok coach was officially unveiled by the Sharks, ending two weeks of speculation. The 2007 World Cup winner signing a three-year deal at Kings Park which officially kicked in at the end of October, after the completion of the Currie Cup season.
Venter, a former Bok centre, had been in the position for less than three months, for which he had no written contract when he was appointed in August.
He had galvanised the team during his short stint and, along with new coaches Brad Macleod-Henderson and Sean Everitt, had led an inexperienced squad in the Currie Cup semi-finals.
“He never asked for one,” Smit said of Venter's non-existent contract.
“I asked him how much he wanted and he told me. I thought it was extremely low and that was the end of it.”
Smit said there was still a future for Venter at the union if he wanted to stay on in a different capacity, although indications were that he may opt to return to Cape Town and focus on his medical practice.
White, meanwhile, revealed his appointment was a fairytale of its own, which came just weeks after he quit Australian Super Rugby franchise the Brumbies halfway into a four-year deal.
“I didn’t think in my wildest dreams when I was coming back on holiday to South Africa from Canberra that I'd be sitting here in a press conference next to John again, talking about coaching with him,” the 49-year-old said.
“When I was chatting to Brendan on the plane, and he asked if I'd consider it, I thought maybe if I played it up front with the Brumbies and let them know there was an opportunity, they wouldn’t begrudge me. Thankfully they let me move on.”
White had made no secret of his desire to coach international rugby again in recent weeks and again reiterated he could leave if a more appealing position was to become available.
“The one thing John understands is that I really want to coach international rugby again,” he said.
“I've played open cards with him and part of that is making this organisation becomes the best.
“I'm committed to the Sharks now and this is not a case of leaving them in the lurch. When the World Cup comes and whatever opportunities there are, I'll knock on John's door and if there aren’t any then I'll stay here – that's if I've done enough for him to renew my contract.”
Current coaches Macleod-Henderson and Everitt would stay on in their roles.
Smit, who was captain of the 2007 World Cup-winning team under White, said White would not be involved in coaching during the remainder of the Currie Cup, but could be called upon by Venter, if required. – Sapa