A full-time specialist kicking coach would add the greatest value to the Springbok coaching group, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
It was interesting to note over the weekend that Allister Coetzee has reportedly requested additions to his coaching team.
While there has been no confirmation over such a move, it would hardly be surprising. There can be no doubt that the Springboks have been compromised by the late appointment of the coaching group (which only came in April), while there has been a clear lack of experience and specialists among the personnel.
Renowned defensive guru Jacques Nienaber left after the June series to join Munster, and was replaced by unheralded Chean Roux. Coetzee and the Boks have also not had the ability to work with someone such as the widely respected and experienced John McFarland, who left his post after the Heyneke Meyer era.
Breakdown specialist Richie Gray also made his exit soon after the World Cup, while former SA Rugby general manager Rassie Erasmus left for Ireland at a time when the Boks could have desperately benefited from such input.
The belated arrival of forwards and breakdown coach Matt Proudfoot also brought about a reshuffling of roles, with Johann van Graan – who had been courted by Bath – ultimately being tasked with taking care of the attack and lineout play after his departure was blocked.
Beyond that, somewhat surprisingly, in came the talented but extremely inexperienced Mzwandile Stick to coach the backline, while also having to add some input on the kicking front.
It hasn’t been a winning recipe, and the recent results have reflected that. In the last two games against the Wallabies and All Blacks, the shortcomings in the Boks’ kicking game was exposed once again.
In Brisbane, poor execution and decision-making saw the Boks strangely continue to kick on outstanding aerial fullback Israel Folau, while the week after, very few kicks found ground to win territory against New Zealand in Christchurch.
On both occasions, the Boks gifted opportunities for the opposition to run the ball back at them, and were punished on the counter-attack.
While the Bok kickers certainly have to accept culpability, there has been a clear lack of efficient plan enforcement and execution.
It was interesting to note recently that one Bok player felt a kicking coach would eat into the limited preparation time that the team has.
Indeed, there is very little time for actual 'coaching' once players gather from around the country at national level, but the Boks have to shore up their kicking woes.
Louis Koen worked with the Boks under Meyer and spent time with the team in June, and he needs to come on board full-time. Alternatively, the input of a passionate kicking coach such as former Bok flyhalf Braam van Straaten would also be a worthy addition to the coaching team.
Ultimately, one thing is clear: The Boks need all the help they can get at this point.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images