Johan van Graan, Mzwandile Stick and Chean Roux are three gentlemen whose shoes I wouldn’t want to tread in.
When they bolted out of nowhere in April as Allister Coetzee’s assistants, a cold shiver ran down my spine that had nothing to do with that chilly morning.
An assistant who was part of the Meyer regime, which crashed with nothing to show in four years? A promising but very green Under-19 Currie Cup coach? A Varsity Cup coach? At this level? Do me a favour, please!
Modern sport requires a head coach to have very strong assistants. Steve Hansen has Wayne Smith and Ian Foster as his support. Enviable!
It made sense that Matthew Proudfoot was there because he and Coetzee built formidable Stormers and Western Province teams with fearsome forward packs.
The forward pack is just fine, but the Springboks’ struggles this year – attack, defence, tactical kicking and backline potency – have turned a harsh spotlight on the coach and especially the assistants who are tasked with getting the best out of the Boks in these areas.
Coetzee denied the rumour that he had sent out an SOS for reinforcements, but the spectre does loom large either way: who can replace or assist the gentlemen under scrutiny? We need to find plausible solutions.
Louis Koen has been roped in as a kicking coach, so at least a plan is being made to address that matter.
Johan Ackermann is out of the question as he should be allowed to build upon the resurgence of the Lions. Our rugby needs a pillar of strength in the mould of the Bulls who served as the backbone of the Springboks between 2004 and 2010. He needs to be a consultant at most.
Instead, Swys de Bruin is a man whose stock has risen considerably and he’d be a good bet as an assistant backline coach. Whether he’d want to leave, and whether Ackermann and the Lions would allow it, is another story.
Crucially, it’s imperative that the conditioning specialist, Ivan van Rooyen is roped in to share his knowledge as the Lions are outstanding in this department!
The focus then turns to Nick Mallett and Brendan Venter. Brilliant rugby minds, they have become the hot topic of world rugby after their remarkably enlightening to-and-fro on television recently.
The question is: will either man want to be involved in the local game judging by their personalities and/or colourful history with SARU?
And besides, how much would London Irish have to be paid out in compensation should SARU somehow snag Venter!
John Mitchell, who loves our rugby dearly, is trying to build something special in America.
We all know what happened at the Lions and the nonsense that surrounded his snubbing as a potential Stormers appointment, but let’s look past that and find a loophole to get him out of his US Eagles contract to provide the Bok think tank with some input.
John Plumtree is a possibility. He is a forwards coach, so where would that leave the capable Proudfoot? And would he leave the Hurricanes if room was made for him in the Bok setup? It’s worth finding out.
Alan Zondagh, Rassie Erasmus, revolutionary defence Jacques Nienaber (who did great work with Coetzee) and Dick Muir also spring to mind.
Jake White is set to leave Montpellier, and I hope he might want to help his former comrade, and Alan Solomons has a wealth of experience to offer now that he’s left Edinburgh.
Seeking these men’s help will be costly, but money has to be thrown at the problems. The bigger issue is negotiating around the politics that underpin many aspects of the game. Egos will need to be set aside. Burnt bridges will have to be rebuilt. Minds must be opened to different ideas.
It’s not wishful thinking. It’s the path that must be taken.
Keba works in Supersport’s new media department – he lives for sport, loves rugby unconditionally and has a lot to say. Follow him on Twitter: @Keba_MC
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