Bryan Habana said Jacques Nienaber’s decision to move on from the Springboks after the World Cup is an opportunity to escape Rassie Erasmus’ shadow.
Nienaber was an assistant to Erasmus during the 2019 World Cup success before taking over a year later.
The 50-year-old will join Irish province Leinster in November, after the World Cup final on October 28.
“I’m definitely not surprised,” Habana told AFP.
“It’s a massive opportunity for him, in my opinion, to come out of Rassie Erasmus’ shadow and really show his characteristics and ability as a strategic coach, manager,” he added.
According to South African Rugby sources, a foreigner will not be considered for the position.
Nienaber’s assistants Mzwandile Stick and Deon Davids are among the front-runners, alongside Stormers head coach John Dobson and Bulls boss Jake White, who led the Boks to World Cup glory in 2007.
“It will be interesting to see who that next person is,” Habana said. “Is it from this current crop? Mzwandile Stick, Deon Davids?
“John Dobson is going really well with the Stormers. Jake White will probably want to throw his hat in the ring.
“It’s always going to be a tough decision.”
Habana, 39, made the last of his 124 Test appearances in 2016 and retired two years later after a trophy-laden spell with Toulon.
© Agence France-Presse
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