Mixed feelings for White's return
May 5, 2014
Jake White and Ben Mowen worked together in rebuilding the Brumbies © Getty Images
Brumbies players are experiencing mixed feelings about the return of Jake White to Canberra this weekend, eight months after the South African coach abruptly quit the franchise two years before the end of his coaching contract.
White is set to return to Canberra with his ladder-leading Sharks side, and Brumbies captain Ben Mowen has told Fairfax Media that several players are still "filthy" with the coach for his early departure. Mowen said some players still hadn't talked to White since his departure, due to feelings of anger and frustration, but he said the side would push emotions aside in order to prove their evolution since his departure.
"It wouldn't be fair to say there's a general feeling about Jake coming back, it's personal," Mowen told Fairfax Media. "There would be a mixture of guys who would be filthy about the process because Jake did ask players to commit to Canberra and move here [and then left]. Then there are other guys like myself who understand it and the picture. There's a mixture of it. We haven't spoken about it as a group, nothing is pushed on any player."
Brumbies scrum-half Nic White, meanwhile, said there were no lingering ill-feelings towards the South African, although several players reacted with angst and confrontation when informed at a dinner in Cape Town last year of the coach' decision to leave the club.
"Jake came when the Brumbies were in a hole, they were dark times [at the end of 2011]," White told Fairfax Media. "He turned the Brumbies [as an organisation] on its head and that's exactly what we needed. Personally, I have to be thankful to Jake for giving me the opportunity and being the player I am today. He taught us a lot. There's no animosity. Once it all settled you couldn't hold it against Jake. A lot of the guys just wanted a chance to thank Jake. There was no goodbye, he was just gone."
Brumbies prop Ben Alexander told News Corp the meeting of the two playing groups in Canberra would be interesting, with both sides enjoying success so far this season and both holding some inside knowledge of their rivals' strategies.
"There will be the curiosity factor with Jake obviously," Alexander said
"He knows our game well, so from a strategic stand point that'll be interesting and the coaches will have to do some thinking there. "They [the Sharks] squeeze sides. They start well, put pressure on early via the scoreboard, they have a very low error rate and are very disciplined. But if you give away penalties against them, a guy like Frans Steyn will pop them over from anywhere and before you know it you're chasing the game. We have to be disciplined."
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