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REVEALED: Bok's verdict on Sharks DoR Powell

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Sharks Director of Rugby Neil Powell seemed to have finally turned the Durban-based franchise into silverware contenders, instead of being the ultimate pretenders.

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In a space of two months – since taking over the reins from axed coach Sean Everitt – Powell has managed to steer the Sharks to a remarkable turnaround.

The Durban-based franchise struggled under the guidance of Everitt –  losing to the Bulls in last year’s United Rugby Championship quarterfinal at Loftus Versfeld.

They also suffered two Currie Cup Final losses to the Bulls.

But a lot has changed since last season.

They have signed some big names – like Siyamthanda Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Mbongeni Mbonambi – while the new coaching set-up, led by Powell, has also transformed the side into a team that can finally contest for silverware.

The franchise was the only South African team to record a win in the Round 13 of the URC, edging Edinburgh 22-19.

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The victory saw the Durban side leapt into the Top 8 and also back into contention for the South African Shield race.

Their Champions Cup run has been just as impressive.

They reached the Round of 16 after remaining unbeaten through the pool stages.

And to top it off, Etzebeth, Kolisi, Makazole Mapimpi and Jaden Hendrikse made the list of 15 players to be nominated for the 2023 EPCR Player of the Year award.

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Having joined the team from Toulon at the start of the season, World Cup-winning Springbok Etzebeth had nothing but praise for Powell and his efforts.

“I can’t comment much on last season, because I was not there [at the Sharks],” Etzebeth explained.

“I think different coaches have different strong and weak points.

“Thus far, I have experienced Neil in a very positive light and his rugby knowledge is great.

“He brings some new tactics to the game because he got that Sevens background.”

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The legend

The lock revealed Powell, who coached the South Africa Sevens team for nine years, has the ability to become a great fifteens coach and a legend at the Sharks.

“He [Powell] hasn’t been part of the fifteen systems that long but he is a great coach.” the newly-crowned SA’s Player of the Year said.

“He is like a sponge, he just wants to learn from coaches around him and seniors players. He is definitely not a know-it-all type of personality and that is sometimes what you need in a rugby team.

“He has been filling the job well and the guys respect him.  He was respected at the sevens and was phenomenal there.

“For me, he is already a great coach and I’m not sure how long he will stay at the Sharks but I think he has the qualities to become a legend at the franchise and will be a great fifteens coach.

“It is phenomenal to work with him.”

@leezil07
@rugby365com

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