Greeff: Bok woes more deep-rooted than just coach

2017-12-09 10:58
Werner Greeff and Breyton Paulse during their Springbok playing days (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Changing the coach will not solve the Springboks' problems overnight, former fullback Werner Greeff believes.

READ: Boks don't have a definite plan - Chester Williams

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee is in the firing line after two below-par seasons in charge of the national team.

Under his guidance, the Boks have won only 11 of 25 Tests for a meagre 44% win-record.

Several reports have indicated that Coetzee, who has a 65% win-mandate, will lose his job in the coming weeks.

But Greeff, who played 11 Tests for the Boks between 2002 and 2003, believes simply sacking the coach will not improve matters.

The 40-year-old Greeff was speaking on kykNET's Afrikaans TV show, Toks en Tjops, on Friday night when he shared his thoughts on the state of rugby in South Africa.

The show is hosted by former Springboks Toks van der Linde and Breyton Paulse.

“It’s not always nice to see how things are going,” Greeff said of the Springboks. “But I think the problems go way deeper than just the players and the coaches. I don’t think much will change if you put in a new coach. There are more things that need to be changed than just the coach.”

Greeff, who played in Western Province and Stormers teams renowned for their attacking rugby, said he was unimpressed by the current game style employed by South African teams.

“The game style of the other (countries) is completely different to what we’re playing. We’re still playing this negative type of rugby, trying to play defensive rugby and I’m not a big fan of it. It started coming into the game roundabout the time I retired (in 2007)... I didn’t like it, being dictated how you should play. The guys are not allowed to play the way they’d like. I don’t think they’re getting the freedom they’d like,” Greeff continued.

He warned it could take a while before improvement is seen at the top.

“The reality is that we’ve played very negative rugby over the last 10 years. It has filtered through to the Super Rugby teams. If you look at how New Zealand and the other teams play, they breed attacking rugby. They want to move the ball around. The New Zealand forwards’ ball skills are unbelievable. We’ve just had a total negative game style and now when we try to change it, the players aren’t necessarily equipped to do it.

“I think it’s going to be a process. To be honest, I don’t think it’s a quick fix. It doesn’t matter who they put there, it’ll be a process of putting systems in place and to say ‘right, we’re going to play more attacking and attractive rugby, score more tries’. But we’ll have to sharpen up the players’ skills.”

Greeff also believes there’s an over-emphasis on gym work in the South African game.

He used All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie as examples of slightly-built players who perform at the highest level.

“I’m not a fan of all the gym work the guys are doing. Look at New Zealand’s flyhalf, he’s slightly built, and he rules (the game). McKenzie the fullback is just as good.”

Greeff also called for players to be given time to grow accustomed to the Springboks’ team environment.

“There’s so many changes that I don’t think the players can find their feet - one of the reasons for the sevens team’s success is that they have structures in place which allowed the players to grow around it, they bought into it and things are going well.”

Read more on:    springboks  |  rugby

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