Rob Houwing

Handy bit of PR for Allister

2011-10-14 07:51
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
Rob Houwing’s ‘Tops on the Telly’ column

I know we’re not quite talking American election here, but a decent “TV rating” and public image probably does no harm these days if you are a frontline candidate for the Springbok coaching post.

And if that is the case, then Allister Coetzee has done a sterling job, in my opinion, in letting people know a bit more about his rugby philosophy and underlining his even-tempered personality.

This has come in the form of his presence on one of SuperSport’s more compelling studio chat shows during RWC 2011, “Master Plan NZ”.

It has been a big success, by my book, and the most recent one I watched - deftly anchored by Joel Stransky - featured excellent tactical post-mortems on the quarter-finals as well as discussion of the looming semis.

His guests were Stormers/WP coach Coetzee, former Bok scrumhalf Garth Wright and the Lions’ Kiwi coach John Mitchell: their collective insight – interspersed with relevant bits of game footage - was crisp and engaging.

I found it one of those rare occasions, in fact, where you aren’t at all tempted to idly channel-surf for diversions from time to time.

It felt like a true gathering of “rugby men” demonstrating their wisdom, and you just began to get an idea of the sort of messages they may communicate to team assistants at pitch-side in live match situations when the cameras sometimes catch them talking frantically into walkie-talkies from the booth in the stands.

Coetzee, a former SARU-era scrumhalf of aplomb who has coached at various levels – including the Bok backline during that productive little period of 2007 - but still has relative “youth” on his side at 48, gave the impression that, if he were to make it into the hottest national seat of all, he wouldn’t battle to articulate his game-plans to either players or press.

When the topic of Piri Weepu’s suitability to helping the All Blacks out their flyhalf pickle came up, Allister’s thoughts were interesting: he said he was generally reluctant to “play a nine at 10” because a scrumhalf’s nature is not to provide width for the outside backs.

These men, after all, are renowned in their favoured positions for sniping and wriggling around the fringes, so you can only imagine that whenever Coetzee has fielded Dewaldt Duvenage in the No 10 channel at either Super Rugby or Currie Cup level, it really has been only due to their extraordinary injury hoodoo in the position this year ...

Rob’s Awesome Foursome:

1. Liverpool v Manchester United, English Premiership soccer
Liverpool, Saturday 13:45, SS3, Maximo & SHD3

This rivalry in England’s north-west retains its fizz and “hate” factor, despite the slightly lopsided trophy success rate in United’s favour for many years. But the Scousers aren’t in the worst space ahead of this lunchtime treat ... they come off an away victory over Merseyside counterparts Everton a fortnight back, and lurk promisingly enough in fifth on the table. I fancy that ‘Pool are just about good enough, roared on by the Kop, to deny the log-leaders all three points here. I’ve taken the conservative option: 1-1. Oh, and five or six yellow cards.

2. Sharks v Lions, Currie Cup rugby
Durban, Saturday 19:10, SS1, CSN & SHD

I secretly hope there’s something at stake in this fixture, which seemed like such an appetising end to the round-robin programme when the fixture list was revealed several months ago. The Lions, of course, are already safely installed as table-toppers, so will “rotate” a few players under the circumstances. There is just the off-chance that the Sharks will enter the encounter as confirmed second-placed side and thus also home semi-finalists, if the Cheetahs have been upset at home by Griquas a little earlier in the day. But I don’t anticipate that happening, leaving the Sharks still under pressure to strike for the win and neutrals to arguably enjoy the game more!

3. New Zealand v Australia, World Cup rugby semi-final
Auckland, Sunday 10:00, M-Net, SS1, SS4 & SHD

I believe the tackling and general bodily-bombardment toll the Wallabies took in their fortuitous quarter-final victory over the Springboks will adversely affect their quest to send New Zealanders into mass mourning on Sunday, even if fatigue only really kicks in during the final quarter. And then there’s the David Pocock factor: his “crime” for being at the centre of so much of the Bryce Lawrence/breakdowns furore in Wellington is that the spotlight will certainly be turned more fiercely than ever on the Aussie fetcher ... and psst, maybe there’s a bit of justice in a South African, Craig Joubert, policing this fixture? I pick the All Blacks to get home by 10 points or even a bit more. And I back Wales for Saturday’s earlier semi against France, which is also live on SABC2, unlike Sunday’s game.

4. South Africa v Australia, second Twenty20 cricket international
Johannesburg, Sunday 14:30, SABC3, SS2, CSN & SH2

I do hope South African cricket fans are keeping some sense of perspective during the short T20 leg of the Aussie visit, whether the Proteas are shaping promisingly thus far or not (this was written ahead of the first contest at Newlands). These fixtures are primarily the lightweight, fun and strongly experimental element of the series; real business starts on Wednesday at Centurion with the first of three ODIs. So don’t be suggesting doom and gloom if Gary Kirsten hasn’t got off to a winning start as coach. SABC-watchers will doubtless be pleased to note that this game in the Bullring is “genuinely” live on SABC3 ... not “delayed live”.

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