Cape Town - It doesn’t matter who his assistant coaches are, Allister Coetzee is the head coach and should be competent enough to keep the Springboks on track.
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That is the view of legendary for Springbok flyhalf Naas Botha.
Botha was speaking after SA Rugby earlier this week reaffirmed its support for Coetzee as Springbok coach.
Cheetahs coach Franco Smith was confirmed as backline coach, replacing Mzwandile Stick, while a new defensive coach will be confirmed once contractual details are finalised.
The Boks had a torrid 2016, winning only four out of 12 Tests. It included a first ever home loss to Ireland, a first away reverse to Argentina, a record 57-15 home defeat to New Zealand, before ending the year-end European tour with losses to England, Italy and Wales.
Brendan Venter has been tipped for the defensive coaching role, but Botha feels the head coaching role is the most important one.
“Allister stays the head coach and for me the head coach should be capable of doing everything. Last year people said he had inexperienced assistant coaches. That doesn’t matter, he should be capable of actually doing the job by himself,” Botha said in a radio interview with XVR.CO.ZA.
The right team selection will be vital in 2017, Botha also stressed.
“Another thing I think Allister didn’t get very well sorted out last year is his selections. I thought at stages he really made bad selections, players that weren’t in form played, you could see players losing form while playing and he kept believing (in them)... and I think that’s where we can go and look around us. The teams that are really successful... 99% percent of the time they play players who are in form. And that’s one thing we haven’t seen for a while now.”
Smith, who coached the Free State Cheetahs to Currie Cup glory last year, will continue the work he started with the backs on last year’s year-end European tour, where the Boks lost all three Tests.
“I thought he did a fantastic job during the Currie Cup, but he was on the end-of-year tour last year and I thought maybe that was the wrong time to join that sinking ship. I believe he is in the same scenario... we will give him a good opportunity this year and let’s see if we can start creating (opportunities),” Botha said.
When probed for answers to the team’s woes, Botha's response was a simple one.
“You can be creative in your thinking, (but) if you don’t up the skill level, nothing’s really going to happen. And then it also depends on what we believe will take South African rugby forward... what game we would like to play. I’m a little bit amazed by it at the moment.
“Everybody’s talking that you have to play the running game or you have to do this... just look at the Stormers, they just proved again on the weekend, go and play rugby, that’s the most important thing. Scrum well, do your lineouts well, do you kick-offs well, if you get an opportunity you run properly.
“If you have to play a tactical game for a couple of minutes, then you do that, but just do it properly. And that’s what we haven’t seen. Let’s just hope somewhere along the line we can get back to proper, proper rugby - and that’s for me the most important thing. We haven’t really seen that. People say 'play like the Lions' or 'play like this' but we should just go and play rugby. And I think everybody understands what that means."