THE Sharks have set a goal of reaching the final of Super Rugby next year, backline coach Sean Everitt said yesterday.
Everitt said that the new coaching staff, headed by Jake White, and the players had discussed their targets for 2014 and what they wanted to achieve in the competition.
“We believe that we are a franchise that needs to compete for the title, not just make up the numbers,” he said.
“We certainly want to be there in the final. That’s our goal, otherwise we wouldn’t be playing. Jake is here to win games and that’s his philosophy on coaching. So we will do everything it takes to try and achieve that target.”
Everitt, who joined the Sharks coaching staff at the start of this year’s Currie Cup competition, was last month named by White as his Super Rugby backline coach. Everitt said the coaches had been impressed and surprised by the attitude of the players who had just a couple of weeks to relax after winning the Currie Cup before returning to pre-season training.
“The guys are extremely excited and they’ve come back showing a lot of enthusiasm. We didn’t expect that level of excitement, so it bodes well for us and it certainly has made training easier.
“They have worked exceptionally hard over the last two weeks and the focus at training has been rugby-related, not just on conditioning, and the guys have really enjoyed that.”
Everitt said that the coaches had concentrated on polishing skills and ensuring the players were more accurate in the roles they perform. He said this was a change to previous years when the emphasis had been on conditioning with the ball not involved in the early weeks.
“With the new coach coming in, and new structures put in place, we have the time to make the changes.”
He said that the new season would start with a clean slate with all the players vying for places.
“That’s how every new season should be. I don’t think a coach should have any preconceived ideas about any player.”
Everitt said that the players had already been drilled in improving their breakdown skills.
“That’s a big area of concern in the modern game. There are more breakdowns than any other phase of play, so it’s extremely important, especially with the referees blowing up players for going off their feet and for sealing off the ball.”
He said the returning Springboks would be joining the rest of the squad early in January.
“The Springboks have had a long season this year. We mustn’t forget that during the June break, they didn’t have an opportunity to rest, so they have been on the go, flat out for the whole year.
“They came straight back into the Currie Cup without a break after the Rugby Championship and then straight into the end-of-year tour. So they deserve a break and I’m sure they will feel that they need one too.
“But obviously we look forward to getting them back in January. And the youngsters in the squad can then help show the seniors the ropes,” Everitt added with a smile.