Former Springboks Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger say Swys de Bruin’s shock departure from the Bok camp should be seen as an opportunity. DYLAN JACK reports.
News broke on Wednesday that De Bruin, who has linked up with the Boks over the last two years as an assistant coach, asked to be released from his role for ‘personal and medical reasons’.
Speaking at a Laureus function in Cape Town, former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers said it will undoubtedly be a bit of a setback for the squad with just over a month to go before the opening World Cup fixture against the All Blacks.
‘I think it will have an effect,’ De Villiers said. ‘When you lose your attack coach it will have some sort of effect on the team. Hopefully, the structures have been put in place and they have been consistent with that and they can just continue with that.
‘It was quite evident. I saw it on Saturday already. Swys was not in the coaches box. Obviously, they played that game with Swys not being there.
‘It is a big setback for the team but sometimes you have to use those setbacks to your advantage. Sometimes it gives an opportunity to individuals in the squad to step up, take responsibility and get through it. It is a bit of a blip more than the team being down and out.’
Former Bok flank Schalk Burger added that De Bruin’s departure will provide coach Rassie Erasmus with an opportunity to bring in new ideas, pointing to how Jake White brought Eddie Jones into his coaching staff before the 2007 World Cup.
‘It does give the opportunity to bring in someone else as well,’ Burger said. ‘In 2007, Rassie Erasmus was with us for our preseason buildup and we were split into two groups.
‘Rassie left, I don’t know if he was meant to go to the World Cup or not. But then we brought in Eddie Jones. He was a breath of fresh air. It was a masterstroke by Jake at the time.
‘It is obviously sad not to see Swys see it out in a World Cup year. Saying that, it is an opportunity to bring someone on board who brings something extra. Every World Cup is a testing time; it is the only time in modern-day rugby where a team is forced to be together for four or five months.’
Erasmus will consider a number of options before naming De Bruin’s replacement on a short-term basis.
The Springboks face Argentina in a World Cup farewell match in Pretoria on Saturday.
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images