There is an air of change at King’s Park after another trophy-less season.
One of the bigger questions to be answered in 2018 will be whether the Sharks will continue playing the forward-dominated, territorial rugby espoused by head coach Robert du Preez or whether new arrival Dick Muir’s expansive, more flamboyant approach will win the day.
There seems little doubt now that Muir, the former Springbok backline coach, will be added to the coaching staff at King’s Park, with both current assistant coaches, Ryan Strudwick and Sean Everitt, having apparently been relieved of their duties with the senior team.
That sets up the possibility of a clear clash of styles between Du Preez and Muir, and their relationship and responsibilities will have to be clearly defined by CEO Gary Teichmann, who is believed to be behind the acquisition of Muir, if the Sharks are not to find themselves in an untenable situation in which one of the two has to leave.
The Blue Bulls are also set to see changes in their coaching staff, with Grant Bashford, a former Sharks assistant coach, rumoured to be in discussions with the director of rugby at Loftus Versfeld, New Zealander John Mitchell.
The 50-year-old is known to be an enthusiastic proponent of the exciting new approach Mitchell is bringing to the Bulls and is adept at coaching “the New Zealand way”, having been John Plumtree’s assistant at the Sharks for six years and having observed the pre-season training camps of both the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Bashford is particularly focused on increasing the intensity of training sessions, being a proponent of the same sort of short, sharp, but high-pace sessions Mitchell has favoured since coming on board.