VIDEO: Plumtree is not the Sharks' saviour with a magic wand
Sharks fans, critics and media are getting impatient.
Five rounds into the new season and the team is still winless – with losses to Munster (21-34), Leinster (13-34), Ospreys (5-19), Zebre (10-12) and Connacht (12-13).
It has left them rooted at the bottom of the standings – the only winless team and just two points to show for their efforts.
Director of Rugby Neil Powell and coach John Plumtree explained that they are in the process of ‘laying a foundation’ that will ensure long-term success and not just provide a quick fix.
Plumtree admitted that fans will be ‘hurting’ after five successive losses, but they are determined to turn it around.
“There is no more uncomfortable place to be in – after a loss in a Sharks jersey – than a review session on a Monday morning,” the coach added.
“The boys get it pretty hard when we don’t succeed.
“However, I do also have to check myself and realise I need to have patience as well.
“I want to get the message out there that we are bloody hurting.
“We are growing something and we will have some [growing] pains.”
Asked by @rugby365com how long they believe this process will take and how far down the road they are, he said people wrongfully expected him to be a ‘saviour’ with instant solutions.
“It won’t be me [who solves the problems],” the coach said, adding: “It will be ‘we’.
“That is from Marco [Masotti, controlling owner of the Sharks], to Ed [CEO Eduard Coetzee] and the staff on the second floor [at Kings Park].
“We all have to be singing from the same hymn sheet.”
Plumtree said it is uncertain how long the process will take, but there will be ‘some success’ in the interim.
(WATCH as Director of Rugby Neil Powell and coach John Plumtree explain to @king365ed what it will take to get the Sharks out of their current slump…)
“We want to establish a quality foundation that we can build on.
“That foundation is still being built.
“I am impatient and want to build that as quickly as possible.
“We do have players that are [already] contracted and we do have a game model that we are trying to develop and those foundations will take time.”
The Director of Rugby, Neil Powell, admitted it was ‘early days’ in the process, but there will come a time when they are all aligned.
“We know that we still need to put some processes in place and get some alignment in place – on and off the field,” Powell told @rugby365com.
“It is difficult to put a timeline on it.
“I have been part of systems where we said it would be two years and then we had success in a year.
“I have also been part of a system where we said we’ll have success in two years and then it took four years.
“We are excited about the future,” Powell said, adding: “We feel in the organisation that things are moving in the right direction.”
Powell said when he arrived at Kings Park about a year ago, there was a lot of ‘mediocrity’ in the way things were being done at the Durban-based franchise.
He said with his Sevens background and Plumtree’s experience, they started to ask questions about what was expected of the players – in terms of the standards expected on the training and playing fields.
“It takes a while for players to adapt to the standards,” Powell said, adding: “They need to understand what their contribution is to the professional and high-performance environment that is being created [at the Shark Tank].”
Powell said that while there are high standards and they won’t accept mediocrity, they still want the players to enjoy the environment and have smiles on their faces.
The Director of Rugby feels they are not yet getting the reward for the progress they have made.
“We are working on a sustainable and successful system – not just for the next two years, but also what it looks like in the next five years and next 10 years,” Powell added.
“That comes down to the recruitment and retaining of players.
“We need to recruit the correct players – be that in the senior set-up, or whether we get them from the schools and they come into the academy and progress through our junior systems.
“We also need to retain the players that we believe will form the core group – not just for the next three years, but for the next 10 years.
“Any changes are disruptive and we need to minimise those changes.”
He used successful teams like the Lions, with their success in the Johan Ackermann era (2013 to 2017), and Saracens in recent years – as examples of how they should retain the core of their playing squad.