So there will be a huge shock if Allister (seriously need to learn how to spell his name) Coetzee is not named as the new Springbok coach in a few days, writes Benedict Chanakira
There has been a lot of focus on just what he didn’t do at the Stormers. His poor record in knock out games, his conservative approach to games and how he never won Super Rugby.
The reality is, South Africa has tried a Super Rugby winner and it has not actually gone to plan. The new system that needs to be implemented is the succession plan and touting a few options to take over in the near future. For his positives, what they will not mention is how he kept the Stormers as one of the best sides in South Africa during his tenure; losing a final to the Bulls and winning the conference on three occasions. He managed to keep the Cape side among the top teams.
Allister’s transformation record has to be lauded when you consider it was an aspect that was on the table.
From Hoskins’ interviews you realise transformation is bordering the main aim for the Springboks and with an expected target of 50% players of color by the 2019 Rugby World Cup it is something that needs to be approached with ferocity and guile.
His work with the Stormers was exceptional in that regard, his management skills can be lauded as one of his strengths and seldom do you coach at this level without these. It is a matter of selection, managing and implementing.
What has been a problem over the years has been the head coach appointing his own assistants, men that we can be defined as ‘yes-man’.
It is believed, SARU have decided against this and made one ‘likely appointment’ as Mzwandile Stick the former Blitzboks captain, EP Kings under 19 head coach and current Southern Kings assistant coach as the Springbok assistant.
Johann Van Graan will offer the lessons learnt from the previous 4 years, which will complete the trio. Now they must work together for the greater good.
The question on everyone’s lips will be; is Stick the right man for the job? Is he another Peter de Villiers? A man of color who is thrust into the role to appease the politicians? I will leave that to your discretion.
What I can say is this, he could add some much needed value in how to add attacking initiative, trusting players and being innovative. Dubbed by many as a highly talented young coach Stick was at the helm as EP Kings under 19 went on to win the under 19 Currie Cup in the process beating sides that arguably had more talent and resources.
What that EP side had was majority of the players that had won Craven Week the season before. Instead of being outdone, they managed to set the tournament alight. Add to the fact Stick is the only ethnic African assistant coach/coach in Super Rugby at the moment.
He is likely to be the appointment the South African hierarchy is looking at. He has managed to work with the SARU Mobile-unit in the build up to the Super Rugby season and is likely to have been given a thumbs up on his appointment by Rassie Erasmus.
Rassie Erasmus will be the main guy in this whole system, his knowledge of the players and technical know-how will be what steers this new charge. Remember Rassie and his team know all the players from the age group levels. From what I hear they have already been working on the groundwork for the Ireland series.
As for Stick? Besides under 19 successes and less than 10 games experience in Super Rugby the man offers what SARU want. Just like how Heyneke Meyer was appointed by Nick Mallet as his forwards coach at the 1999 Rugby World Cup without notable experience at Super level, despite being SWD Eagles head coach.
There is something special that he holds apart from meeting SARU requirements. It will be up to the public to judge Mzwandile on how he fares as the backline coach.
You cry transparency? You likely will not get it in any of the coaching appointments you will follow. From the sacking of Jake White as a coach after winning the World Cup to the appointment of Peter de Villiers you will realise this is all more than just about rugby. Deal with it.
Yet those tasked with the roles have not been the train smash all have expected or foreseen. Allow the results to define a coaching era. That is how it has and must always be.
I will look fondly at the impact he made in the u19 Currie Cup and hope to see something similar with what is set to be a young Springbok side that is expected to play expansive rugby with little fear of what is before them.
If he was appointed solely for his willingness to trust the players and have them take aim, why not? We can only be positive right? Aren’t we tired of being negative?