Smal should consider coaching Stormers

2015-12-03 06:42
Gert Smal (Gallo)

Cape Town - Western Province Director of Rugby Gert Smal should consider fulfilling the Stormers head coaching role himself during next year’s Super Rugby competition.

The Capetonians are on the hunt for a new coach after the shock departure of Eddie Jones to take charge of England.

As a result, Smal is currently overseeing the Stormers’ pre-season programme and could well be persuaded to perform a similar role to that of his contemporary at the Sharks - Gary Gold - and coach the team on a full-time basis.

It certainly wouldn’t be a bad option as the former Springbok loose forward boasts vast coaching experience, having coached the Stormers and WP in the early 2000s, as well as being assistant coach to the Springboks (2004-2007) and Ireland (2008-2013).

Former All Blacks, Western Force and Golden Lions coach John Mitchell emerged as the early front-runner to replace Jones, with several media reports linking him with the job and suggesting it was a "done deal".

However, Mitchell’s expected arrival in Cape Town may not be as clear-cut as it may have appeared as recently as last week.

His departures at the Force and Lions were controversial to say the least, after the New Zealander had several reported run-ins with players who turned against him.

Mitchell is a no-nonsense sort of character, but has a history of rubbing up players the wrong way - something the Stormers players have no doubt taken note of.

Sport24 has it on good authority that several of the senior players in the Stormers camp are unhappy having Mitchell as their coach and this may sway the union to turn their back on him.

At the announcement of Jones’ departure last month, Smal said he wanted a coach with vast experience - and by that he meant international experience as well as experience coaching at Super Rugby level.

With the Super Rugby season fast approaching, time is running out for the Stormers to find a suitable coach - and given the criteria that Smal has set for the new coach - it’s hard to see them finding a suitable candidate in due course.

Former Sharks coach John Plumtree was mentioned but he appears happy and settled in his role as assistant coach of the Hurricanes in New Zealand.

Another candidate is Western Province coach, John Dobson, who led the team to this year’s Currie Cup final, as well as achieving success with the union’s junior teams.

But Dobson falls short in terms of Smal’s requirements for an "international coach with vast Super Rugby experience" and it appears the union is reluctant to have him step into the Super Rugby hot seat just yet.

Having said that, Dobson is by no means less qualified than Nollis Marais (Bulls), Franco Smith (Cheetahs), Johan Ackermann (Lions) and, until yesterday, Kings coach Brent Janse van Rensburg.

Whatever eventuality plays itself out at Newlands, Smal needs to make a decision sooner rather than later as the Stormers’ opening Super Rugby game against the Bulls is a mere 86 days away on February 27, 2016...


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