Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Pretoria - Former Springbok coach Jake White looks set to stand alone in his bid to replace Peter de Villiers as national coach ahead of next year’s World Cup.
With current Bok coach Peter de Villiers only likely to face a review later on in the month for the disappointing Tri-Nations series, White has publicly offered himself for the job to “rescue” the national team ahead of their defence of the World Cup title.
But a day after his former assistant Allister Coetzee committed himself to supporting De Villiers, White’s friend and former Australian coach Eddie Jones rejected suggestions he may join White for a second crack at a World Cup title.
Now there are increasing indications that De Villiers may be spared the axe by South African Rugby Union bosses, but that tweaks may be made to his management and communications team to stop the series of public relations disasters that have followed his reign. SARU bosses are still seething about White’s public lambasting of them after the World Cup and in his autobiography and are unlikely to support any such move.
White said earlier in the week he had spoken to Jones about joining him in a possible return to the Bok job, and had communicated as much to SARU president Oregan Hoskins.
“Neither myself or Eddie are in contract with anyone at the moment, we can start next week if Saru want us to. We are available to work with the Boks again, and I have told Oregan Hoskins as much,” White told SuperSport.com’s Gavin Rich.
“To me it’s hard to imagine how they can think they can carry on with the current set-up, but getting someone with the necessary experience in for just 12 months is going to be difficult.”
But on Wednesday, Jones told Japanese newspaper The Daily Yomiuri he had no intention of giving up his job as head coach of the Sungoliath Suntory.
"I am absolutely commited to Suntory," said Jones, who signed a four-year contract in the offseason with the club, having spent the previous season as its director of rugby.
"We have started a project and are right at the start of it," the 50-year-old former Wallabies coach said. "I am not going anywhere. Jake and I are good mates and I would like to help him out, but not now. It's simply not possible."
With the South African Rugby Union looking increasingly likely to support De Villiers, White backtracked somewhat on his comments in a morning interview with Talk Radio 702’s John Robbie, saying the media had twisted his desire to be involved again.
“You can imagine post test matches the phone always goes off the hook and people ask what’s going on. If you’ve lost then people always want answers. Basically I was approached and asked if I wanted to come back and I said of course,” White told 702.
“Its about getting back into international rugby. When you’ve played at that level, there is better than getting another chance. It’s been turned into now Jakes putting the boot in, which is not the case at all.
“I didn’t want it to be seen that I was putting pressure through the media on SA Rugby so I sent him a message. Why wouldn’t I want to coach the team? Four fifths of that team is still the same as the World Cup and any coach who has coached at that level would love to have another crack.”
White reiterated his belief that Stormers and Western Province coach Allister Coetzee should be the Bok coach instead of De Villiers.
“I’ve made it quite clear that I believe that after the World Cup SA Rugby should have appointed Allister Coetzee. They needed to show they were genuine about transforming the game. Oregan Hoskins said they needed to be sensitive to transformation.
“There is a guy, not for the colour of his skin but because he is a wonderful man, a great rugby coach and sends the right message out. I said post World Cup they should have looked at him. He was the assistant and the players knew him. On many occasions I said Allister would have been the right guy purely because he had come through the system.”
White also warned that Australia are the dark horses for next year’s World Cup in New Zealand.