Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett has questioned the selection process of current incumbent Allister Coetzee and called for greater transparency regarding future selection of the national team.
READ: 5 talking points: Wales v Springboks
Mallett was commenting in the SuperSport studio after Saturday’s Test in Cardiff, which the Springboks lost 24-22 to Wales.
It was their final Test of the year and leaves Coetzee with a paltry 11 wins from 25 Tests over his two-year stint (44% win ratio).
“What South African rugby needs to ask itself in this period between the end of this tour and the start of next season, is what is the progress that has been made between 2016 and 2017?” Mallett questioned.
“We could argue more wins in 2017, but then you’ve got to argue the teams we beat. We beat France four times, but we have to realise that they are at a very low ebb at the moment. We beat Argentina twice and they are also at a low ebb. And we beat Italy, and with the greatest respect to Italians, they are not even in the top 10 ranked teams in the world. So we haven’t beaten a team ranked above us this year and we lost badly to the All Blacks and Ireland away. So, our progress was limited.”
Mallett also hit out at the selections made by Coetzee.
“We’ve also got to ask questions about selection. Because when you think of a team and the way it plays, you’ve got to select in a way that’ll give you an ability to win. Certain selections haven’t been good this year. The persistence with Damian de Allende when he hasn’t played well, the issue of (Warrick) Gelant playing wing when he should have been fullback, and picking Francois Hougaard on the wing last year when we had a lot of players excelling in that position. There are a lot more questionable selections that we’ve seen over the past two years. There are changes to be made with Rassie Erasmus coming back as director of rugby, he is going to have to take a lot of responsibility for what happens from now on.”
Recent reports have suggested that Coetzee will be fired as Bok coach, with Erasmus expected to take a more hands-on role.
“The one thing I think is very important, is that the coach has to have direct contact with the players, and the media has to have direct contact with the person responsible for the team. So if Rassie is going to be involved in whatever way and he is responsible for the team, then the media must have access to him to ask the questions about selection and about the way the team is playing because he will be the ultimate person accountable for the Springboks’ performances,” Mallett said.
“So, for now, the questions that need to be asked are: What is the progress we’ve made? Can we continue with selections that have been a bit confusing? What is the official role Rassie is coming back in? And if we are to use his coaching expertise, then he has to accept as well that there are media responsibilities and selection responsibilities that he has to answer for as the head of our national team."
Mallett concluded: “We are not near the three best teams at the moment. We are languishing in fifth place (the Boks will drop to sixth on Monday). What became evident in this Test window, is that England have progressed enormously and are definitely the biggest challenge in world rugby after the All Blacks. So, we have New Zealand, England and Ireland as the top three ranked sides, Scotland are doing really well and racing up the rankings, then there’s Australia who actually beat Wales but then lost badly in the next two games. So, we are somewhere behind Wales and Australia and then behind us, we get Argentina and France, etc.
“The Springboks are nowhere near the top table and that’s what we’ve got to worry about. With our tradition of rugby and talent, South Africa should be right up there competing for first or second place. We ought to be performing better than we are at the moment.”