‘Allister deserves Bok job’

Four former Springboks on the appointment of Allister Coetzee as Springbok coach and his management team.

Pieter Hendriks (former Bok wing)

'Allister deserves the job, he’s certainly not an affirmative action appointment. He’s been around the block and coached with Jake White [at the Boks from 2004 to 2007] and he played provincial rugby during apartheid which was the highest level in those days. He’s had success as a coach in Super Rugby and the Currie Cup, taking teams to semi-finals and finals. This and being involved in 2007 when we [South Africa] won the World Cup, makes him the right man to be in charge on merit. But I will say I think SA Rugby have thrown him to the wolves with the management team and the support structures around him. I don’t think Springbok level is where we should be training and coaching assistant coaches. SA Rugby could have given him a little more experience in that regard especially since they've cut down the size of the management team and support staff drastically from previous years. When times get tough and the pressure is high, I think Allister is going to find himself very lonely without that experience there to support him. I’m still a proud ex-Springbok player and Springbok supporter, I just hope that SA Rugby is not doing this in the name of transformation by dropping the Springbok standard. That is something I have a huge problem with. We can’t sacrifice our standards for the sake of transformation. I support transformation, but only if it’s done in the right way.’

Ollie le Roux (former Bok prop)

'Allister is a very good appointment. He’s got the credentials. I firmly believe that he will be able to make the team successful with the talent we have. I’m not too worried with the coaches SA Rugby have appointed right now, I believe the Springboks are good enough that any coach with Allister’s experience can be successful with the team. But I would have liked to have seen very strong coaches appointed underneath Allister as part of a succession plan, because what do we do if Allister loses a number of Tests in a row and gets fired? He’s not going to be there forever, so I would have liked to see SA Rugby already have a succession plan in place and the next six or so candidates in line for the job as part of the management team. Then you’d have a similar situation to the one where Graham Henry coached the All Blacks for eight years, won the World Cup and handed over to Steve Hansen who could step into the head coach position having been part of the coaching staff for eight years. I don’t see that vision coming from SA Rugby. What if Allister gets fired after two months or turns around and says he’s had enough? I think they’ve taken a big risk with the appointments they’ve made in that regard.'

Stefan Terblanche (former Bok fullback)

‘I think Allister is the right appointment. He’s got a lot of experience, has coached a lot of teams and has been involved with the Springboks before. In terms of the management team, just looking at Mzwandile Stick, it’s a new environment for him. He’s in a top position now, it’s a top learning school and I hope that Allister will give him the support to quickly fit into that role because he’s coaching the national team now. Johann van Graan has been there before under Heyneke Meyer, and so has the team manager Ian Schwartz. In the position we are in at the moment, with a lot of people disappointed with Boks' performance the last couple of years under Heyneke, we’re all, as supporters, very optimistic and enthusiastic about the future, but we also know that there’ll be a lot of pressure on Allister not only to perform but also to transform the game with SA Rugby’s target of having 50% players of colour in the Springbok side by the 2019 World Cup in Japan. It’s going to be tough on him, but I just hope he’ll be able to turn the Springboks around and make us as supporters proud of the team again, not only in their success but in the way they play, and if they lose in the way the lose.'

Rob Louw (former Bok flank)

‘I’m very happy for Allister. With his history of coaching and being involved with the Bok coaching team at the World Cup in France in 2007, I think he's the right man for the job. He’s also done very well under a huge amount of political pressure in the Western Cape. I know Allister, he’s an absolute gentleman and I’m very excited for him, I think he’ll do very well. But his support group is going to be very important. You can see what’s happened at the Lions over the past three years with a good coaching structure and a good support group. Hopefully the Boks will be going in a similar direction. I think Mzwandile Stick will offer something in terms of improving our skill level given his sevens background, it’s definitely an area we’ve fallen behind the rest of the world in recent years, somewhere between school rugby and senior rugby it gets lost and that’s been a big worry for me.’