Allister Coetzee believes hastily made selection changes would threaten to create an attitude of individualism in the Bok set-up, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Port Elizabeth.
In the buildup to last Saturday’s second Test against Ireland, Coetzee reiterated that he would give players another opportunity to prove themselves after the disappointment of the shock opening loss at Newlands.
However, Coetzee also made it clear that if players failed to make the most of their ‘second chance’, he would then look at bringing in other squad members who continue to wait in the wings for an opportunity.
It’s an interesting dilemma for Coetzee to contend with this week considering that the Boks produced a lacklustre and error-strewn first-half performance at Ellis Park, but then battled back during a much-improved second stanza to come away with the win.
Coetzee will be forced into making at least one injury-enforced change after Duane Vermeulen was ruled out of Saturday’s Test due to an elbow injury, with Warren Whiteley likely to come in at No 8. There is also the possibility that both Steven Kitshoff and Jaco Kriel could be set to make their Test debuts off the bench.
And while many would have expected talented winger Ruan Combrinck to start after his Man of the Match performance at Ellis Park, Coetzee may opt to afford Lwazi Mvovo one final opportunity.
On Monday, Coetzee suggested once again that he would not be making any hasty changes to his selection policy.
‘The experienced players must lead by example and there’s no getting away from that. I’ve always said I believe in second chances, and some did take that opportunity and contributed to the result. I will look at the challenges the Irish will bring, and select a team to front up and combat those challenges.
‘We’re often too quick to use something and then just chuck it out and start with something untested. I know that I need to get players to perform, and how do I do that by just dropping them? If I did that I’d make the others nervous about coming in and knowing that they have this one opportunity for themselves, and then suddenly we’d become this individualistic team. We need to have the confidence to perform as a unit.’
Just two games into Coetzee’s tenure, it’s clear that the Bok coach is at peace with the fact that the team’s new vision and game plan may take some time before it is perfectly implemented.
However, it’s just as evident that the Boks have placed a premium on ensuring that they perform with far greater intensity, discipline and accuracy right from the outset this Saturday.
‘When we’ve cut out the errors, we’ve been able to build momentum, and then it’s been difficult to play against us,’ Coetzee commented. ‘In the last 20 minutes against Ireland last Saturday we showed how good we can be when we put all the little aspects together, and that’s what we’re looking for over the full 80 minutes now.’
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