Former England captain Nick Easter is being hailed as an “exceptional coach” who will make a major impact in Super rugby with the Sharks, who open their season against the Sunwolves in the humidity of Singapore on Saturday.
Springbok outside half Rob du Preez believes Easter’s knowledge of English rugby can help the Durban based Sharks build on their Currie Cup triumph in the new Super Rugby campaign. Easter has been hired as a coaching consultant and joins Ronan O’Gara in the competition with the former Ireland outside half having enhanced his reputation as a backs coach by helping the Crusaders win the Super Rugby title last season.
O’Gara and Easter are reversing the trend of South Hemisphere coaches travelling to Europe to boost their rugby CVs.
Du Preez, who has returned from a successful three month period with Sale Sharks in the Gallagher Premiership, said: “I have really enjoyed Nick’s input and it is a different voice and he did a lot for us in the Currie Cup working on the shape of our attack and our defence.
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“He also looked at our break down work and I believe he is an exceptional coach and will enjoy the Super Rugby which is right up there with the Premiership.”
Easter believes he will gain vital insight and experience of South Hemisphere rugby while the former Harlequins defence coach hones his skills at the Sharks and has moved his young family to Durban. He said: “I am really looking forward to the challenge and career wise it will be great to be involved with a completely different league and environment plus all of the travelling that comes with the Super Rugby season. There is no month long break this time and so it is being played out as a long sprint.
“I am going to be learning a lot about taking on New Zealand, Australian teams, plus the South African franchises and the Jaguares from Argentina. When I was out with the Sharks during the Currie Cup campaign I was asking the coaches about the different challenges posed by the teams from those countries. It will be fascinating to deal with the different nuances and to get in-depth details of the, styles, philosophies of the different teams. Analysing those teams takes that to a different depth
“I love all aspects of coaching but the thing that fascinates me is the personal relationships and trying to get the best out of each player. Every culture is different and you cannot go into something all guns blazing and you have to win people over. What I found during the Currie Cup is that South African players are very willing to listen but are a bit reluctant to change and I want players to challenge and take ownership. The more I am exposed to different situations the far better I will be in my coaching career.”
Head coach Rob du Preez, the father of Sharks players Rob, Dan and the injured Jean-Luc, is expecting a difficult opener with the Japanese opponents. “The Sunwolves are an incredibly strong and efficient team when they play in Singapore and Tokyo.”
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