Coetzee too reliant on regulars

Benedict Chanakira

The Springboks are edging closer to the 2019 Rugby World Cup and look like a side that will be out in the group stages and it’s because we haven’t integrated our squad into the Test 23.

The Springboks are in a shambles. Four wins over an average French side have made it look like there’s been progress this season, but there hasn’t. We’ve got one win in the last six Tests.

Fighting for his job daily, coach Allister Coetzee is over-reliant on a core of players made up of players with limited experience.

While Francois Venter brought a new dynamic in the midfield and Vermeulen’s impact was evident, their introduction against France last week highlights how Coetzee has been going round in circles. There’s no depth because of questionable selections and a lack of trust in fringe players.

Coetzee is even reluctant to play his own bench, unheard of in the modern game. Continuity is good but only if it’s in maintaining a winning team. Coetzee has been quite vocal about continuity in his bid to create a spine and combinations but the Boks have neither.

Malcolm Marx has confirmed himself as the first-choice hooker, but an injury means that Bongi Mbonambi – who has only featured off the bench in 12 Tests since June last year – now has a chance to prove his worth as a starter. Who are the replacements should Jesse Kriel, Ross Cronje, Courtnall Skosan or Andries Coetzee suffer an injury?

Coetzee’s reluctance to use his replacements has been written about – Mbonambi, Rudy Paige, Uzair Cassiem, Dan du Preez, Lukhanyo Am, Warrick Gelant and Louis Schreuder all need a chance.

England coach Eddie Jones calls them “finishers”; replacements come on to finish the match whether to seal a win or chase a deficit, it’s an opportunity to push the incumbents. England replacement scrumhalf Danny Care recently said, “As a finisher on the bench, it’s about increasing the tempo and the energy of the team.”

Replacements are selected to specifically impact the match. Aside from Steven Kitshoff’s impact off the wood, South Africa doesn’t seem to get the same out of a bench that hasn’t been shown much trust.

Wales lost to Australia two weeks ago and made several changes. They blooded a few youngsters in a narrow victory against minnows Georgia, as did Scotland three weeks ago.

Injuries can be a blessing as well as a curse, ask Wilco Louw. His window opened after an injury to Coenie Oosthuizen. But surely Coetzee shouldn’t wait for injuries to force him to test new combinations?

Instead of preparing for the future by rotating players, building experience and depth for the day when the replacement has to start a major Test, it seems the Boks are living in the now.

My point will hopefully be underlined by Mbonambi impressing in his first Test start, and Gelant coming on to tear the match open in the final quarter.

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- Benedict Chanakira

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  • Max

    Stop being arrogant. We not in the same boat as NZ an Eng. It will suicidal to start over again. SR gave us a clear picture that the inform players didnt have BMT, which means they will fail at test. BMT have to be there at test level. A test is equal to a SR Final.

  • Grant

    Good little article. The coach has snubbed experienced guys who can still add value and just got loads of rookies or limited caps, most notably in the back line. The continued use of Messer Jessie Kriel boggles the mind. He is not a 13, which is crystal clear for all to see. And now we have a proper 13 playing 12? With Serfontein out, we should have gone to Frans Steyn or at the very least an inform 12 (think RJVR, Harold Vorster). Willie Le Roux, JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn: Europe based players who are still young enough and experienced enough to add value and help the youngsters. AC is not an international coach. I think every day how we had Eddie Jones sat in Cape Town and England snapped him up under our noses.

    We have the potential to be a power house of rugby again, we have players with X-Factor, pace to burn, size and ability. All of Rob Du Preez, Mapimpi, Rohan, Am, Nkosi (sadly injured), Gellant (what a back line that would be) and Juarno Augustus (NZ would have him on their tour already, think Ioane) are players with great potential. And let’s be honest, the Boks have not beaten a good team this year, and even in the matches we looked good, the backs still struggled.

    These tours are a great opportunity to get the Europe based guys and the potential super stars together in a squad to help the development. This tour was a chance to spread the net and say to the SA Rugby admin that you are building for the WC AND BEYOND. Why are our coaches just fixated on their 4 year cycle? The only way we will consistently be good is if our coaches look at the big picture and build not just for the next WC, but the next 2 or even 3. But by sticking to the same tried, tested and unconvincing players in certain positions, I think Toetie has shot himself in the foot.

  • Chad

    I’m really sick and tired of everyone questioning and condemning Allister Coetzee…he has changed the policy of SA rugby to blood local talent after only fielding foreign based players with little success…we are in 2017…these guys need experience…game time…allow them to play and build experience…the world cup is in 2019…we have the whole of 2018 to improve…let him do what he has been tasked to do…let him build his core players and then everything will fall into place…even the impact players are unsure of what they must do when they come onto the field…give them the time they need to mature into test players and maybe we will stop blaming Allister when he starts winning big matches!!!

    • Sharky

      “When he starts winning big matches”? How about IF he starts winning big matches? I suspect this time last your you were saying: “I’m really sick and tired of everyone questioning and condemning Allister Coetzee… we are in 2016…we have the whole of 2017 and 2018 to improve!” Now, a year later we’re just as screwed with one year less to sort out AC’s mess. But don’t worry “the world cup is in 2019…we have the whole of 2018 to improve”. I wonder what you would say at the end of next year? “Don’t worry, we still have the first half of 2019 to improve”.

      AC has left the Bok squad in a shambles. He failed to use experienced players to ease inexperienced players in – just look at what that lack of experience and leadership did in Albany, where players were looking around for someone to show them the way and there was no one! And like the article said, he’s failed to develop a squad – his bench are mainly a group of passengers. And the rest – they might as well not be there cos if there are any injuries to his starting XV he’ll draft someone who isn’t even in the squad into the starting line up!

      Have you noticed how the vast majority of Bok supporters are wanting the same players selected. Never before has there been so much unity of opinion among fans! But maybe your right. Maybe most of us are wrong and AC is right. Maybe his master plan is about to kick in in a big way. But his list of largest losses and other embarrassments seem to disagree…

      • Chadwick Damons Chadwick Damons

        So…we won…anything to say?

      • Max

        NZ took 24 years to get it right, so how can you expect SA to get it right in 4 years?

    • Grant

      You make a valid point, and I was saying the exact same thing at the start of this year. However after so many games sticking to the hard line of continuity etc there has to come a time when one says enough is enough. After 10+ tests this year and certain payers starting every single one without showing any improvement it is probably time to try something else. We can see the parity in our forwards developing and I think the majority is happy with that aspect of our game. In the backs we have the same selections each week with zero development.

      The bottom line is against Italy we should probably have tried one or two new players, specially at 13 where Kriel has had the jersey for several years now under 2 coaches and never really been convincing. South Africa is a once giant of rugby, and we should never accept being average.

      Experience means nothing if you don’t have the ability to start off with. Is the expectation that these guys come into the Boks and learn how to play rugby? That is not the international coaches job, he is meant to take world class players and find a way to make them work together as a cohesive unit. Can’t take average players and turn them into world class players I am afraid, and for that reason alone, the selections are to blame.

    • stormramp

      omw r u blind . tge players dont cut it. Everytime they being exposed. Skosana doesnt fit nor cassiem or de allende. The only way forward is if we get our skilled players back. Skilled not semi skilled

      • Amien Davids

        And the guys you mentioned all coloured. How bout Jesse kriel or Dan du pree( Carr just wiped the floor with him) or coetzee. Why do you people always point out black and coloured players as the weak links.

      • Max

        Who are the skilled players?

  • Mark Fletcher

    The Boks have lost ground under the guidance of Alistair Coetzee, the results alone put this beyond doubt. What is of more concern is the tactical inability of this team. In two years the coaching staff are not a settled unit, the squad has not been developed and there has been no clear tactical approach. 2 years of experimentation could be excused if it left a clear path of improvement. There simply has not been enough clarity or development. It is a simple failure and the Boks need a change.

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