Rugby World Cup 2011
WANTED: Bok coach, captain
Peter de Villiers (File)
Johannesburg - South Africa must find a new coach and a new captain in the aftermath of their failure to successfully defend the Rugby World Cup title in New Zealand.
GALLERY: Springboks v WallabiesGALLERY: The next
The Springboks lost 11-9 to bogey team Australia in a Wellington quarter-final on Sunday and coach Peter de Villiers said later his time was up while John Smit confirmed his long run as skipper was also over.
De Villiers succeeded Jake White after the green and gold won the 2007 World Cup in France and the first black coach of the national rugby union team experienced more lows than highs although his win-loss record shows a credit.
Hooker and sometimes tighthead prop Smit was named captain by White in 2004 and his tenure in charge ranks among the longest in the sport, although critics say he should have quit several seasons ago to make way for human wrecking ball Bismarck du Plessis.
Heyneke Meyer of the Blue Bulls, Rassie Erasmus and Allister Coetzee of Western Province and former All Blacks handler John Mitchell of Currie Cup leaders Golden Lions could be candidates to succeed De Villiers and rebuild the Springboks.
Apart from Smit, green-and-gold legend Victor Matfield has announced his retirement and fellow lock Bakkies Botha, scrumhalf Fourie du Preez and left wing Bryan Habana are others whose Test careers are probably over.
Smit will end his career with London outfit Saracens, Botha is heading for France and Habana would like to join him there, and Du Preez is relocating to Japan with lock Danie Rossouw, who proved a stand-out replacement for injury-inflicted Botha during the World Cup.
While Smit may have overstayed his time as hooker, there was no doubting his leadership skills in the minefield that a Springbok dressingroom can often be and finding a worthy successor is likely to prove a major challenge.
Loose forwards Schalk Burger of Western Province and injury-prone Juan Smith of Free State Cheetahs, who missed the World Cup after being sidelined early this year in Super Rugby, are sure to be considered.
Du Plessis, considered by many pundits as the best hooker in the world despite playing second fiddle to Smit, may have some backers for the crucial role although a lack of leadership experience would count against him.
Bulls hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle has skippered the Boks, but after understudying Smit he must now prepare for a similar role with Du Plessis certain to achieve his goal of being first-choice in the number two jersey.
* Click HERE for the latest RWC odds on BET.CO.ZA