John Smit seems set to make a fairly remarkable return to Kings Park as the new CEO of the Sharks, replacing Brian van Zyl … Tank Lanning ponders this development.
I heard the truly extraordinary news while in Durban for the inaugural East Coast Tens over the Easter weekend but was asked to keep it quiet …
And while the Sharks remain tight-lipped on the development, Mike Greenaway writes in the Mercury today that top sources have indeed confirmed the story.
Being part of the ClubWise initiative from SARU that will see the national union aim to improve all club administration in this country via a Cathseta approved 5 day course and 96 page manual/textbook, seeing ex players getting into administration rather than just coaching and commentating is fantastic!
But to come in as the CEO of the richest franchise in the country is a fairly industrial call! A bit like a player coming back from a 12 month injury and going straight into the Super Rugby side rather than getting a few club and Vodacom Cup games first.
How about a year at the helm of College Rovers, Crusaders or UKZN first? I do not doubt the man’s leadership, charisma, integrity or passion for the game, but surely a few new skills will need to be developed before he will have the confidence to implement any new ideas?
This apart from the political nous needed to succeed in a role like this … And I write that with a heavy heart – Petty politics, be they of the national variety or of the Natal or WP club variety, are what is keeping this country from world domination on the rugby field!
Greenaway reports that Smit’s appointment will be ratified at a Sharks council meeting on Monday, but an official statement could well come out on Wednesday as the news breaks.
Smit is playing out his career with London club Saracens and, while he was due to play one final season with French club Toulon in 2014, the Sharks are understood to have negotiated his release.
There have been behind-the-scenes talks with Smit for some months, which will counter conjecture that there is a changing of the guard at The Sharks because of the recent wave of negative publicity stemming from violence and crime in and around the Kings Park precinct on match days.
But it does see Smit enter stage right at a fairly tempestuous time!
He is a favourite son at Kings Park, though, having played for the Sharks for 13 consecutive years. And it is understood that his appointment is supported by those that count. It’s whether that support will remain when called on to make a tough call that would marginalise an entity or club that had perhaps previously enjoyed a favourable lie of the land?
No doubt Smit will be asked to take the franchise into a new era, to inject new blood and new ideas. And one has to presume that the players, via their contractual and image rights, will benefit from having an ex player at the helm. But it will be very interesting to see how said ex player reacts when called upon to cut up a very finite pie.
I think it is a particularly exciting development, and much like if a player is good enough, he is old enough, if those in the know believe Smit to be the man for the job, then who the hell am I to argue? I wish the much liked ex Bok skipper luck …