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VIDEO: Sharks - the Ferrari without a gearbox

The Sharks may have ended their losing streak in the United Rugby Championship, but still resembles a broken-down sports car.

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This is the view of John Smit, South Africa’s most capped hooker and fifth-most capped Springbok off time.

Smit, 45, delivered a very peculiar portrayal of his former franchise – where he was also the CEO for three years.

The 2007 World Cup-winning Bok skipper said two of South Africa’s franchises have “contracted in a great fashion” and delivered on their investments – the Stormers and the Bulls.

The big North-South rivals remained competitive over the last few years.

He also had special praise for the ‘low budget’ Lions.

“They can beat big teams with more than double their player bill,” he said of the Johannesburg franchise, which has beaten the cash-flush Sharks twice this season.

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“They are a great unit and a difficult team to beat, as we saw last weekend,” he said of the Lions’ 38-14 demolition of Irish province Connacht – the first South African team to win a URC match in Galway.

“Any one of us would rather be in that space.

“You are playing a bit of chess from a contractual point of view and spend your money wisely without overspending.

“Yet you are still able to create a competitive team.”

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However, turning to his team, the Sharks, he was not as complimentary.

The Sharks, already out of the play-off race, only won their second match in 12 starts – beating Ulster.

(WATCH as retired Springbok and former Sharks CEO John Smit makes a bold statement about the status of the Sharks….)

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“As much as it pains me to say, the Sharks are on the bottom end of it,” Smit said in a URC round table media briefing.

“They have a magnificent-looking team.

“It’s like walking through a parking lot and seeing a Ferrari, but as you peer through the window, it has no gearbox.

“That’s the reality.

“Why?

“It used to be my problem for three years when I was CEO there.

“It’s such a complicated and loaded question.

“We have a coach in Plum [John Plumtree] who has come back.

“He knows the culture of old.

“He really understood what the Sharks were about, pre-equity deal.

“He’s had little ability to pick players or management.

“It’s difficult to blame him. He has inherited everything that he’s got.

“Man, oh man. [They are] bottom of the log with that squad.

“It does beg for answers that all of us desperately want and I wish I had them.

“That’s a big part of my life and the Sharks badge is ingrained into my soul.

“To watch them struggle is difficult.

“The win over the weekend [against Ulster] was magic.

“It’s probably the only game I haven’t been able to watch and it’s the one they have played the best in.

“You could ask me, even ask Plum, [the CEO] Ed Coetzee, or anyone.

“I’m not sure anyone in that system would have a true understanding of how you can be so far behind with such an unbelievable group of players.

“The only way to address it is to accept that this URC campaign has been an absolute disaster.

“We have some great players coming in next season.

“Plum will have a full year of understanding what he’s got, who he’s going to let go, who he’s adding.

“He will hope there’s some kind of realignment next year.”

@king365ed
@rugby365com

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