Nick Mallett is being wasted on TV when he’s at a ripe age for coaching, says ex-coach André Markgraaff.
Rob Houwing, Sport24
To overwhelming public approval, I have little doubt, the indefatigable Nick Mallett – backed by input from Naas Botha and Ashwin Willemse — will again be the prime studio pundit for SuperSport’s presentation of the Currie Cup final at Newlands on Saturday.
Not even Naas’s cheeky attempts last week to pigeonhole Mallett as Western Province-partial (heck, everyone has their provincial affiliation, and Mallett was No 8 during a 1980s WP heyday) will subdue his instinctive honesty and blunt opinion for the showpiece against the Sharks, I am just as sure.
So it may come as a bit of a shock to learn that a former counterpart as Springbok coach, Andre Markgraaff, doesn’t believe his old Currie Cup-winning colleague belongs in the television world.
But it doesn’t have anything to do with reservations about his TV role: Markgraaff simply believes Mallett’s talents are wasted there.
“Nick is just 56 (he turns 57 next Wednesday – Sport24) and should be in the prime of his coaching life right now,” he is quoted as saying in seasoned rugby scribe Gavin Rich’s new book “The Poisoned Chalice – The rise and fall of the post-isolation Springbok coaches.”
Published by Zebra Press this month, it is available for R220 at various bookstores.
Markgraaff, who like many recent Bok coaches sailed through various storms in his tenure, added: “(Mallett) was very young when he started; he was just 39 when he served as my assistant coach. You haven’t learnt life’s lessons (by then).
“I think the Springbok coaches have generally been too young – I’m a lot wiser now than when I was coach.”
Author Rich himself maintains: “There are too many South African coaches who are in their prime, or approaching it, but have given up on coaching after the system has chewed them up and spat them out … Mallett is far from the only one to whom this has happened.”
I imagine there will be a well-subscribed school of agreement on that score, although at the same time, Mallett indicated very recently in an interview with Tank Lanning used on Sport24 that he was content for the time being in his TV analysis role.
“The pressure of coaching gets very stressful … when you get a bit older and you’ve paid off your bond, you don’t need that hassle anymore!”
*Matthew Pearce and Bob Skinstad (the latter both Sharks and WP once, don’t forget) handle live English commentary on the final on SuperSport.