SARugbymag.co.za's panel of experts on Allister Coetzee's move to Japan, his replacement and the future of the Stormers.
JIMMY STONEHOUSE (former Pumas coach)
'I always say a coach should only stay four to five years at a club and Coetzee has been at the Stormers for eight years. So this is a good move for him. In all honesty, he's in a good spot to coach the Springboks. Going to Japan is an opportunity to learn more about his role as a coach at a club filled with international players. Who should replace him and who has the ability to take the Stormers to the next level is a problem for me. The rugby fraternity thinks everyone is better than the other. Assistant coaches Robbie Fleck and Matt Proudfoot should be granted the opportunity to coach the Stormers. These guys are familiar with the system, and they are very good at what they do. The union needs to place faith in them and support them fully, which will allow them to break loose from being assistants to take the lead alongside [Stormers director of rugby] Gert Smal.'
JAMES DALTON (former Springbok hooker)
'Whether the decision to coach in Japan is the right call, time will tell. No one should ever overstay their welcome, though, and I think Allister got the timing of his Stormers departure spot on. He is leaving at the top of his game, without any acrimony and bitterness. We've seen a few instances where local coaches go abroad, create an international brand for themselves and then return to take up a role with the Boks. This is an opportunity for Allister to add something new to his CV, which will perhaps pave the way for him to coach the Boks after Heyneke Meyer. The next task for the Stormers is to be consistently competitive, but that will not be determined by one person. To achieve that, they need a good administration set-up and the right players. This is why I think either Matt Proudfoot or Robbie Fleck has to take over as head coach. They understand the system Allister will be leaving behind. If they recruit from outside the union, the new coach might want to dismantle the creed of the system. It will take time for the players to settle and time is the one thing the Stormers don't have at their disposal, not with the fans seeking better results.
ROBBIE KEMPSON (former Springbok prop)
'Coetzee's move is more of a financial decision than a rugby decision because Japanese rugby is definitely not as competitive as South Africa's. But I'm sure it's the long-term benefits that made up his mind. Taking the Stormers to the next level will be a matter of keeping the experienced players and mixing them with younger players rising from the junior ranks. That should be prioritised. With the Stormers set-up, and Smal having a plan for what he wants, I think a local coach would be ideal. But WP have very good and experienced coaches in Robbie Fleck, Matt Proudfoot and even John Dobson who has been brilliant with the WP Vodacom Cup team. There are plenty options within the union to choose from.'
CORNÉ KRIGE (former Stormers and Springbok flank)
'I believe Allister received a lucrative offer, which was impossible to turn down. He has done his bit for Western Province and won a couple of Currie Cups in what is possibly the most stressful rugby job in South Africa, apart from being Springbok coach, of course. I think when you devote eight years to a team you deserve recognition. The change will be good for his personal growth and I wish him all the best. You can be as good a coach as any, but without the right players, no team will be successful in Super Rugby. What the Stormers need now is someone who can, together with Smal, convince a few big-name players to sign on for them. John Dobson is the perfect fit for WP, but I feel putting him in charge of the Stormers will be a step too far. He has the credentials to be a wonderful Super Rugby coach, but not at the moment. They should look to bring in someone from the outside, who can come in with a fresh eye and new perspective.'
OLLIE LE ROUX (former Springbok prop)
'Both the Stormers and Allister Coetzee needed this change. It's always good for a coach to renew and test himself, instead of becoming complacent in one position. It's the ideal time for Allister to take on a different challenge and broaden his horizons. With Gert Smal at the helm, the Stormers are destined to reach new heights, irrespective of the coach. The man has an astute rugby brain with an undisputed fondness for the union. When deciding on Allister's replacement, Smal will act in the best interest of the Stormers and their long-term ambitions. Whoever takes over from Allister, will have a good platform and an excellent support system to build on.'
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images