Springbok back Jesse Kriel has opened up on the changes brought in under Rassie Erasmus during an uncut clip from ‘Chasing the Sun’.
Kriel has played under three coaches during his Springbok career, having been given his debut by Heyneke Meyer and playing in the 2015 World Cup and continuing his Test career under Alister Coetzee and Rassie Erasmus.
When Erasmus took over as SA Rugby’s director of rugby and Springbok coach in 2018, there was a new wave of optimism after the lows the team hit under Coetzee.
As it would happen, Erasmus and his coaching staff would help guide the team to the Rugby Championship and World Cup title in 2019.
Speaking in an uncut clip from the Springboks’ 2019 World Cup documentary, ‘Chasing the Sun’, Kriel explained how Erasmus’ detail-oriented analysis helped the players improve week by week.
‘It was weird, I obviously learned a lot from all the coaches, but when Rassie came in, he focused on the now,’ Kriel explained.
‘There was a lot more analysis on how we were playing in Super Rugby and what he was expecting from us. We were getting constant feedback every week. Let’s say I played against the Sharks, I would get something like a diagram detailing how my defence was, how my attack was, how my breakdown work was, how a player’s attitude to prepare for a game was, how your video work during the week was. It was a lot of the stuff that people didn’t see.
‘I think that brought it back to guys focusing on their actual individual performance to contribute to a team. That was pretty cool.’
Kriel added that another massive change came in how Erasmus handled the egos within the Springbok squad.
‘At the Springboks, as with any sports team, there were a lot of egos. Maybe in some individuals, different teams, a lot of guys focusing on the wrong things, maybe focusing too much on social media or s**t that didn’t really matter.
‘Rassie came in and his big thing was just playing well on the weekend. Leave everything else, what will make you perform better on the weekend? That was a thing that hit all of us. It made me think, am I doing absolutely everything I can to perform better on the weekend.
‘That was a big thing that hit me when he came in. There was a lot of self-reflection. I have a little book that I write down everything from all the meetings. There is a sentence there: “What will make me perform better on the weekend?” That’s something that I still ask myself before every session. Everything I do, during a day or during a week, all revolves around that question. At the end of that day, that’s going to make the Springboks win, if each guy has that thought in his head.’