‘Allister on a hiding to nothing’

Former Springbok coach Jake White says he feels sorry for Allister Coetzee who he believes is ‘damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t’.

The Boks have lost three games out of six since Coetzee took up the top job, with first-ever losses to Ireland in South Africa and the Pumas in Argentina sparking a chorus of criticism.

In an interview with Vodacom Rugby, White said he could sympathise with the position Coetzee found himself in.

‘Allister is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. If the Boks don’t play too much rugby then he’s told they’re being conservative. But then, if they play too much and turn the ball over, then they’re told they need to kick the ball away and not play in their own half. I feel sorry for him, I can speak from having been in the job, he’s on a hiding to nothing …

‘I think what has to change is that it can’t just be a job that is a free-for-all for anyone to criticise or have their view. It’s tough enough without having people from the outside interfering or having an influence.’

White also suggested that Coetzee had taken up the job with a number of stipulations and challenges that were not faced by his other coaching counterparts.

‘The [Springbok coaching] job wasn’t opened up for applications, while they [SA Rugby] gave him his coaching staff without asking him to pick who he wanted. There’s no other job he’s competing against that is the same. When [Wallabies coach] Michael Cheika wants [assistant coach Stephen] Larkham, he gets him. When the All Blacks want Ian Foster, they get him, or if they want to bring in a kicking consultant that they want, that’s what happens. Everyone is asking what is wrong in South African rugby, but you have to look at how the whole thing started …’

Listen to the full interview

Photo: Tertius Pickard/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis