Gold will continue the Sharks’ elusive search for a maiden SuperRugby title after one season under Jake White that saw them lose in the semi-finals but also alienate many supporters with a conservative game plan.
The former Springbok assistant coach says, with the talent at their disposal, the Sharks will simply have to be more ambitious. Gold inherits a mighty pack featuring half-a-dozen Springboks and an exciting backline bursting with playmakers like Cobus Reinach, Pat Lambie, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen and Lwazi Mvovo.
“One of the characteristics of a winning team is that they score tries and we’re not going to beat New Zealand teams 9-6 with three penalties, so we have to score tries. It’s easier said than done and I’m not a rugby romantic, but the Sharks are lucky to have a great squad of players so we can aspire to a brand of rugby that means scoring tries.
“We’ll still look to play in the right areas of the field, there will be a level of pragmatism, but our starting point is that we’re going to put a lot of time and energy into our attack so we can score tries. You have to tailor-make your game-plan to the players at your disposal, but with this great squad we simply have to embrace more attacking skill,” Gold said.
Gold, who was appointed by the Sharks two weeks ago, said all the pre-season planning for SuperRugby was in place, with the squad training from November 17-December 17 and then gathering together again on January 5. While the experienced Currie Cup, Premiership and Japanese league coach is inheriting a star-studded squad, he said he will be looking to make small-scale changes.
“There won’t be much recruitment, but there are two or three positions we’ve identified where we need more strength in depth, which will be important when you consider the demands of the competition. Another of the reasons champion teams are successful is that the difference between their first-choice and second-choice player in any position is not so big that it makes a difference to the performance of the team,” Gold said.
The 47-year-old is also a proponent of a rotation policy, which should avoid the burnout that seemed to afflict the Sharks towards the end of this year’s SuperRugby campaign.
“Another characteristic of successful SuperRugby and Premiership sides is that they embrace a rotation policy. A first-choice player can start for three weeks and then you can give him three days off because he knows he’ll be coming off the bench for 30 minutes the next weekend. He knows he’s still the number one in his position but he’ll appreciate the break and will be a better performer when he comes back because of it. I’m personally not a big believer in playing people into the ground,” Gold said.
The new director of rugby confirmed that the three coaches who guided the Sharks through the Currie Cup – Brad Macleod-Henderson, Sean Everitt and Paul Anthony – would serve as his assistants before taking the reins again for next year’s Currie Cup.
With Brendan Venter on board as a consultant and plans to bring an overseas attack consultant to Durban for a short while later this year, Gold is keen on getting different ideas into the system.
“As the director of rugby, it’s very difficult to coach and deal with recruitment, agents or budgets towards the end of the year and I also want to support the junior team coaches. Hopefully I’ll get a really good working relationship going with Brad, Sean and Paul in SuperRugby and I want us to get together with all the coaches, as a group, and shoot the breeze or share ideas. The U19 coach might have ideas that will work with the senior team … ” Gold said.