It was interesting to read in last Sunday’s Rapport newspaper that Springbok coach Allister Coetzee had sent SA Rugby a detailed e-mail over the festive period in which he outlined plans to resurrect the ailing national team.
Unlike last year, when his appointment was only announced in April, “Toetie” is eager to get the ball rolling in 2017.
And rightly so, it was after all an “annus horribilis” in his first season in charge.
Under Coetzee’s tutelage in 2016, the Boks lost a "record" eight out of 12 Tests.
It included a first ever loss to Ireland on home soil, losing away to Argentina, a 57-15 pummelling at home against the All Blacks, as well as going down to lowly Italy - also for the first time ever.
Results and performances like these would normally leave a coach - in any sport - jobless, but indications are that Coetzee will get another crack in 2017.
Coetzee’s attempts to get the ball rolling early seemingly fell on deaf ears - as SA Rugby’s offices only re-opened on Monday - but he’ll get his chance sooner rather than later.
The talk behind the scenes is that Coetzee will escape the axe.
He sure is a lucky man.
Imagine where Steve Hansen would have found himself if the All Blacks had succumbed to Italy...
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It would reportedly cost SA Rugby in the region of R13m to get rid of Coetzee - something they won't be willing, or could afford, to do.
The plan for the year ahead appears to be to allow Coetzee to surround himself with his desired team of assistants and advisors.
Brendan Venter’s name has been mentioned as an assistant coach, while Franco Smith and JP Ferreira - who travelled as Coetzee’s assistants on last year’s year-end tour to Europe - are believed to be wanted on a permanent basis.
Getting the most competent men to advise Coetzee would be a step in the right direction, especially after several assistants were forced upon him in his first season at the helm.
Matt Proudfoot was drafted in upon the request of Coetzee to look after the pack, which complicated matters as Johann van Graan was already on board as forwards coach.
The Boks, who leaked tries galore in 2016, went through three defensive coaches in a matter of months, while Mzwandile Stick’s skills as backline coach were questioned throughout.
Therefore, if as is expected, Coetzee remains at the helm in 2017, he should be afforded the opportunity to surround himself with the personnel he wants.
Apart from the Rugby Championship matches, the Boks will face France in four Tests in 2017, while they’ll get another crack at Ireland as well as attempt to avenge the Italy defeat on their end of year tour.
Defeats aside, what was even more puzzling last year was the manner in which the Springboks played. They seemingly had no game plan, no structure, no leadership and no defensive system - and things got progressively worse as the year wore on.
There will however be no excuses this year. There simply cannot be after two seasons in charge.
In the cut-throat world of professional sports, the buck should always stop with the head coach.
Herman Mostert works at Sport24 - is a struggling golfer and enjoys tennis...
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