Cape Town - Blues coach Tana Umaga has acknowledged that Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus faces a “tough” task in his new role.
Erasmus was confirmed as Springbok coach earlier this month and is tasked with resurrecting the national team's fortunes.
Under former coach Allister Coetzee’s guidance, the Springboks won only 11 out of 25 Tests, which translates to a 44% win-record.
Umaga, a former All Black midfielder, spoke exclusively to Sport24 in Cape Town this week as his side prepared to tackle the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.
When probed on what he thought of Erasmus’s appointment, Umaga responded: “It’s obviously been tough times for Springbok rugby, but there is an air of optimism around Rassie Erasmus’s appointment as Springbok coach. It’s a tough position he’s in - he’s at the head of an international team where everyone wants results. However, Rassie attained some positive results in European rugby with Munster and it will be interesting to watch as his tenure takes shape.”
Umaga, however, added that Eramus would be under constant pressure to perform.
“When it comes to Springbok and South African rugby there is plenty of history and expectation that goes with it. I know a South African side hasn’t won the Super Rugby since the Bulls lifted the trophy in 2010, but it’s a tough competition. It’s difficult to sustain a high level of rugby all the time. However, the Lions have done well and have reached the final for the last two seasons.”
Umaga also acknowledged that New Zealand is in a similar boat to South Africa when it comes to losing players to lucrative overseas deals.
“I can’t talk for South African rugby, but there is definitely a lot of talent out there. However, South African rugby is experiencing a similar thing to what is happening in New Zealand in terms of the fight to retain talent. More and more young players are packing their bags for overseas-based clubs, which is just the way it is now and, to borrow a business term, it comes down to supply and demand.”
READ: Tana Umaga's full Q&A interview with Sport24