Sharks want revenge for mauling
May 9, 2014
Jake White says the Brumbies were in a good shape when he left after being "a disaster" when he arrived © Getty Images
The Sharks' prime motivation for wanting to beat the Brumbies in their Super Rugby fixture in Canberra has nothing to do with Jake White's much-hyped return to the national capital seven months after leaving the Brumbies halfway through his four-year coaching contract.
They want revenge for their humbling defeat by White's Brumbies in Durban last season.
"This game was always going to be a massive game," White said. "From the day I signed with the Sharks, this was going to be the game for them - and it's not because I'm coaching the Sharks. The Brumbies hammered the Sharks last year. [The Sharks] were booed in their stadium after 30 minutes by their crowd because they conceded four tries in 30 minutes."
The Sharks were unbeaten in four games and leading the competition when White's Brumbies ambushed them in Durban in 2013.
"The Brumbies had travelled all the way from Australia; it was a no brainer the Sharks were going to win comfortably and they ended up getting pumped," White said.
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White, nevertheless, understands why his return to Canberra is attracting attention, saying that's why he chose to base the Sharks in Sydney instead of Canberra for most of the week leading up to the game. White accepts he may encounter some resentment from the Canberra faithful for walking out on the Brumbies after dramatically transforming the franchise from cellar-dwellers in 2012 to runners-up last year. But he's not fussed.
"If there is hostility, that's because I'm sure people would be a little disappointed that I didn't stay, and that's not a bad thing," he said. "Not many coaches in the world get hostility shown at them by the fact that they left. Coaches, it's a tough gig and most times you leave when you don't want to. And when you do leave when it's suits you, it's not wrong. Sometimes it's better."
The Rugby World Cup-winning former Springboks coach is proud to see the Brumbies kicking on after cutting short his tenure.
"There's no doubt when they're on song, they can beat anybody," he said. "People must never underestimate the fact that when I sit at home in South Africa and I watch the evolvement of the Brumbies and I watch them winning, let's rewind three years ago; they were a disaster.
"The reality is that the club was in a good space [when I left].
"I was fully aware that the assistants [Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fisher] were good enough to continue, and I was fully aware that the player roster was settled.
"It wasn't just a light decision about moving on."