Zondagh’s main aim: Getting juniors primed for Super Rugby
Cape Town - Alan Zondagh, the Bulls’ newly-appointed director of rugby, says his main priorities will be strengthening the union’s coaching structures and building player depth.
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Zondagh’s appointment was confirmed on Tuesday, with Pote Human also named head coach of the union’s Super Rugby and Currie Cup teams for 2019.
Zondagh, who signed a three-year deal, said creating a system where junior players can easily make the step up to senior level would be of utmost importance.
"I’ve worked with young players for many years and I think the most important thing at a union or franchise like this is the Super Rugby team. And if we get young players into our system, we have to develop them in such a way that they are knocking on the Super Rugby door every year.
"I speak to a lot of unions across South Africa and they agree players might win under-19 and under-21 competitions, but there isn’t really a player who came through that system and is knocking on the door of Super Rugby.
"It’s no use winning at under-19 and under-21 levels every year, but you’re not really making progress in Super Rugby. We have to look at our systems and get it to where our young players break into the Super Rugby squads. That is my main job."
Zondagh further explained that he will to play a big part in the talent identification process and contracting of players at the union.
"I’m definitely going to play a role in that. I think I’ve got an eye for talent. The Bulls haven’t done a bad job with that over the past few years. You can get the best players from school, but if you don’t really work with them properly and don’t develop them continuously, they are not going to be the players you want them to be by the time they get to professional rugby.
"It takes most players about five years before he gets to senior rugby. So you have to invest five years into most players. And I’m not talking about the Pollards (Handre Pollard), Lambies (Pat Lambie), Boschs (Curwin Bosch)... most of the time it’s the flyhalves who get into senior ranks quicker... I’m talking about the rest of the boys.
"And it’s funny when you say that to them... that it’s going to take you five years to play Super Rugby... then they’re actually wondering if they should go into a professional rugby career."
Zondagh added that improving the coaching structures at the Bulls will be a priority.
"We’re busy looking at the structures. There’s no need for major adjustments but we’ll make a few changes here and there. I think we have good personnel within our structures.
"My role is to make sure that our structures are strong. If something happens... like a John Mitchell departing prematurely... that our structures are strong enough to handle those setbacks. I’ll be there to assist Pote in what he’s doing. He’s the head coach and we’ll make sure that we play winning rugby.
"Rugby consists of a conservative style and a more creative style and your players should be able to play both styles... the whole spectrum... So it depends on who we will play, what we need to do... and if our players can adapt to it then we can do really well. I think we’ve got a good crop of players together."