As predicted – Allister Coetzee is the new Springbok coach and with him comes new coaches, a new captain and the dawn of a new era in SA rugby.
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t a big Allister fan when he was at Province and I am still not sold on him. He won precious few trophies, was stubborn in his approach and converted an unstructured – albeit flamboyant – Stormers team into the great wall of Cape Town.
But I am prepared to wipe the slate clean and feel the way I usually do when we have a new coach: determined and hopeful.
So what can we expect from AC in his tenure? Also what do we hope for? In this post we are going to take a look at 3 things that we hope he does and then contrast that with the reality of what he probably will do.
Let’s start with hope, shall we?
1. He no longer selects some of Heyneke’s favourites
Heyneke had favourite players – of that there is no doubt. In my opinion, it’s the only explanation for why he doggedly supported some guys at the expense of others. I’m hoping that AC doesn’t pick guys like Coenie Oosthuizen, Jannie Du Plessis and Ruan Pienaar among others – none of them are the best in their position and do not deserve a spot.
2. He selects some of Heyneke’s outcasts
Heyneke had an obsession with characteristics like size, experience and “doing the basics well” and they (experience in particular) led to his downfall. Hopefully now with Meyer out of the picture, guys like Heinrich Brussouw, Juan De Jongh, Lionel Mapoe and Jaco Kriel get a look in. Brussouw in particular is a man that, at 29, has played significantly fewer tests (22) than he should have – he is a formidable fetcher.
3. He devises a (drastic) strategic overhaul
Wouldn’t it be great if AC came in and allowed the players to play what was in front of them? If he sometimes picked players with flair rather than those with 170 caps. If we encouraged a bit of a devil may care attitude. I believe that Springbok rugby’s secret sauce is (and probably always will be) big, strong forwards, good set pieces and accurate goal kickers but in between all that there is plenty of room for a bit of magic. Just a little bit.
Now that we have dreamt a bit – let’s crash down to reality and look at what he probably will do
1. He will select the same nexus of players
This is not entirely his fault. SA rugby elected the man 2 months before his first engagement and with a results obsessed public – he will feel pressure to hit the ground running. Ireland won’t be the MOST challenging of first encounters but even so – what’s the best way to get what you’ve always got? To keep doing what you’ve always done and I predict you’ll see far too many of the familiar faces you’ve come to know and love in the Bok jumper come June.
2. He will employ a conservative game plan
Coaches with a true appreciation for the VERY strategic side of the game of rugby are few and far between in SA. We use our size, speed and talent as a crutch and default to a conservative plan – and I (very sadly) predict AC going down the same path. He will feel the pressure to get results and let’s be honest, he was never the most strategic guy to start with, so expect us to revert to “traditional Springbok rugby”. What SA truly needs more than ever is a rugby brain – a tactician that will formulate a plan for beating any team on the field and then select a team to execute on that. Not the other way round.
There you have it folks, 3 things we hope come true and 2 that probably will. What are your thoughts? Are we smoking our socks or are we spot on? Let us know in the comments or fire a tweet our way @leftbacks. We love banter.