Rugby

Coach row at Sharks

05 November 2017 - 00:00 By KHANYISO TSHWAKU

Sharks head coach and former Springbok scrumhalf Robert du Preez has been accused of substandard management and ill-treatment of Springbok hooker Mahlatse "Chiliboy" Ralepelle.
Ralepelle, who deputises for Lions hooker Malcolm Marx for the Boks, did not feature in the Sharks' last two matches of the Currie Cup season and took up the issue with the coach.
Sunday Times understands that a high-level meeting took place at the franchise to attend to the matter.
Some members of the team did not take kindly to the fact that a capped Springbok was not given an opportunity to play while Franco Marais and Armandt van der Merwe were given opportunities to play in the play-off games. The Sharks lost the Currie Cup final 33-21 last week at home to Western Province after topping the log table for the better part of the round-robin phase.The Sharks lost the Currie Cup final 33-21 last week at home to Western Province after topping the log table for the better part of the round-robin phase.
They finished top at the end of the league phase and hosted a home semifinal and final.
The Sharks lost one of the two matches Ralepelle wasn't featured in, including the the final.
Ralepelle is part of the Springbok squad that travelled to Europe to face Ireland, France, Italy and Wales.
Sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the team was shocked by Du Preez's decision not to pick Ralepelle.
Du Preez was not the first coach not to pick a returning Springbok, with Blue Bulls executive of rugby John Mitchell not using flyhalf Handre Pollard when he was released from the national team during the season.One source also said Du Preez had a harsh and abrasive way of speaking to players and claimed he was not a good man-manager.
NOT A PEOPLE PERSON
"Mahlatse not playing was a shock to everyone and he asked for a meeting. Since Mahlatse didn't talk about the content of that meeting, it was clear that it didn't go down well with him," the source said.
"We were shocked because the norm is that when players come back from Springbok duty, they slot straight back into the team when they go back to their province.
"It's one thing being the second-best hooker in the country, then when you go back to your province, you don't get to play.
"It's difficult to point out specific incidents, but he is generally not a people's person and his management is not the best.
"At times he struggles to get his message across in a manner that's amenable to the players and it's quite tough at times for the players. He's generally harsh to everybody and he's not short of expletives."Another source said they were unhappy in the current set-up under Du Preez, but was not willing to go public with his concerns, while another source said Du Preez's inability to manage players properly has got to the players.
HIS WAY OR NO WAY
"Robert is not the kind of coach who deals well with criticism or a different opinion. It's his way or no way.
"He makes sure that the message is sent through the captain Ruan Botha and he expects things to be done in that specific way with little to no flexibility.
"He likes things to work that way and he doesn't even agree with players who see things differently from him or challenge his opinions.
"The problem is that there are players who are seeing right through him but speaking out is a different matter altogether," the source said.
"The one thing that could work against the players is that he's got the backing of the chief executive officer Gary Teichmann.
"If there's credit that has to go to the team, it has to go to the assistants."
When these allegations were put to Du Preez, he said he was overseas and requested that queries should be directed to Sharks public relations and communications manager Novashni Chetty, who was forwarded an e-mail with questions.
"I'm overseas and paying for this call, but before you write anything, you must make sure you have your facts right.
"Please speak to Novashni and we'll formally reply." Chetty confirmed that the questions were forwarded to Du Preez but they had not responded at the time of going to press.
tshwakuk@sundaytimes.co.za

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