Allister Coetzee has laughed off suggestions that his future as Springbok coach is in doubt and that he will move to a Japanese club at the end of the year. JON CARDINELLI in Cardiff reports.
The Boks have won 11 out of 24 Tests since Coetzee came to power in early 2016. Even if South Africa beat a weakened Wales side this Saturday, Coetzee will finish his first two seasons at the helm with a win record of 48%.
New South African director of rugby Rassie Erasmus is expected to make significant changes to the coaching structures in the coming months. Coetzee could find himself without a job, while defensive guru Jacques Nienaber and scrum expert Pieter de Villiers could be added to the management team.
It’s also been rumoured that Coetzee and assistant coach Matt Proudfoot are already seeking employment at the Canon Eagles in Japan. Both worked together at the Kobelco Steelers in 2015.
When this was put to Coetzee in Cardiff on Monday, the Bok coach brushed it off as if it was a bad joke.
‘I’m going to Japan. Definitely. I will be there in 2019!’ he said before breaking out into a laugh. Clearly Coetzee is confident that he will continue to coach the Boks for the next two seasons and take them to the World Cup in Japan.
‘I honestly don’t know where these rumours started. I’d like to know the source. It’s just unfortunate.
‘I have a contract with SA Rugby until 2019 and my sole focus and mandate is to focus on this Test against Wales,’ he added.
‘There will be a review after the tour, just like there is a review after the Rugby Championship, and just like there is a review after the incoming tour in June.
‘That’s the process. Nothing new. Nothing innovative. It’s the same thing.’
The Boks lost eight Tests in 2016 to finish with a 33% win record. That rotten run included inaugural losses to Ireland, Argentina and Italy, as well as a record defeat to New Zealand at home.
This Boks have won seven, drawn two and lost three to date in 2017. One needs to take into account, though, that they beat an exceptionally poor France side four times, a struggling Argentina twice, and an Italy outfit ranked No 13 in the world.
Coetzee’s Boks have sustained two significant defeats in 2017, namely the 57-0 humiliation in Albany and the record 38-3 loss to Ireland in Dublin.
Coetzee, however, maintains, that there has been progress and that this coaching staff and group of players are in sync.
‘We started this year with a completely new group. We had a process going. I’m happy with where the team is in that process [at this point].
‘We did well against France and Argentina, and then we had Australia away. That was flipping a draw. Then the flipping spike went down against New Zealand in Albany.
‘Then we came back with the draw against Australia in South Africa. We might have won [against Australia and New Zealand in South Africa]. Then there was a setback against Ireland, but we bounced back against France and Italy.
‘If you look at the whole thing, and I like to use graphs, because I’ve been a teacher for 18 years,’ the Bok coach added, drawing a graph in the air with his hands, ‘there has been progress.
‘I got what I asked for in terms of the training camps, the staff, and the operational plan this year. We had two draws, and a narrow, narrow loss against New Zealand. If you look at the bigger scheme of things and how we have sort of progressed, though, then I’m satisfied.’
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