White is happy to be home

World Cup-winning coach Jake White can’t wait to get his teeth into his new job as director of rugby at the Sharks.

In agreeing to a three-year term, White is reunited with John Smit, his hooker and captain when the Springboks won the title in France in 2007.

Smith, now the chief executive at the Durban-based union, rubber stamped the deal in a statement confirming White’s appointment.

“Jake is an experienced coach whose track record speaks volumes about his ability to rally his team and get the best out of them,” said Smit.

“It was an opportunity I could never have turned down,” said White yesterday.

The highly regarded coach had sensationally left the Brumbies two years into a four-year contract after guiding the Canberra-based Super Rugby franchise to the final of the southern hemisphere competition.

“The Sharks have great players, great traditions and a great infrastructure. All the other coaches in world rugby will probably be envious of me.

“I’m glad to be back in South Africa and I have people around me who I like and trust.”

White and Smit were a formidable team on the field, the hooker winning a record 111 Springbok caps before retiring two years ago.

The arrival of White means another change of coaches at the Sharks, after Brendan Venter was named director of rugby in mid-year. Venter, a former Springbok centre and World Cup winner in 1995, succeeded New Zealander John Plumtree.

Sapa reported yesterday White was recommended to his position by Venter.

“As much as this looks like a fairytale with me chasing Jake down, it really was something pioneered by Brendan,” Smit said.

“Ironically, it was Brendan who came to me and said he’d 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.”

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 might opt to return to Cape Town and focus on his medical practice.

today in print