White targeting Rugby Union title with a battle-wearied Montpellier


MONTPELLIER, France — Jake White may be only two days into his new job at crisis-club Montpellier but already he is targeting the Top 14 title. The South African, who guided his homeland to World Cup glory in France in 2007, took a no nonsense approach to his first press conference since being hired as a consultant to effectively replace suspended head coach Fabien Galthie at a club that have lost eight of their last nine matches in all competitions. But White said that sorry run should not daunt a team that finished second in the regular season last time out. ��The important thing for Montpellier now is to go back to the basics,�� said White. ��The players were a little bit down in confidence �X it’s natural when you’re not winning, the players obviously lose confidence �X so for me it’s about going back to basics and getting things right again, and more importantly to enjoy it.�� To do that, White says the players need direction but he rubbished the idea that they have become afraid of playing their rugby. ��How can you be afraid to play rugby? It’s like anyone here (in the press conference) afraid to be a journalist �X it’s crazy! For me, we must just go and play. ��I think what the players are saying is ‘we’re afraid if we dont have direction’. ��I think that’s the challenge for coaches. They (the players) must express themselves, they must be able to enjoy themselves and not be afraid to make mistakes. ��But they must also be allowed, from the coaching point of view, to get some direction, and that’s generally what I’ve tried to sell to them in the last couple of days.��

Aim to Win Montpellier may be down in eighth place at the moment but White is confident he can get them into a top six play-off spot and even end up going all the way come the end of the season. He says they have the players to do so and insists he has only one aim. ��To win! That’s why I came here, I came to win. That’s why I get up in the morning, I want to win. If I don’t believe, it’s impossible for the players to believe,�� said White. ��It’s like anything, I think the president (Mohed Altrad) knows he has the personnel that wants to win, that’s the bottom line. ��It’s easy for me, I can be in the south of France, I can act as though I’m on holiday, I can take tomorrow off, but I’m not like that. ��Rene Ranger, Ben Mowen, Anthony Tuitavake, the overseas based players playing in France, Wynand Olivier, they’re not on holiday, they’re here to produce for the club.�� And for White, that means winning the league. ��Last year Montpellier came second and this year they have the same players, maybe one or two better players. I think it’s difficult because of where we are in the log, but it must be possible. ��There are enough games left for us to get it right. Once you make the playoffs, anything is possible. ��I have to believe it otherwise I might as well stop now.�� If things go well, the 51-year-old hasn’t ruled out a longer stay than his current six-month deal. ��The first decision with the president was for me to commit six months and over the next six, eight weeks we’ll sit and discuss the vision of the club, the recruitment, new players, coaches that we need to assist to make the club the number one club. ��And if we think, and I think that we can work together, then I can stay longer.��