Springbok flank Francois Louw says Rassie Erasmus showed no signs of his illness while coaching the team to the 2019 World Cup.
According to a report from writer Hendrik Cronje in Sunday newspaper Rapport, Erasmus was diagnosed with microscopic polyangiitis with granulomatosis early in 2019 and had undergone chemotherapy throughout the year, including during the World Cup.
Erasmus reportedly kept his condition a secret and out of the public domain as he did not want it to distract from the team’s charge for the Webb Ellis trophy.
Meanwhile, Louw – one of the players Erasmus trusted – told Netwerk24 that he was aware the coach was sick, but that it was never clearly obvious to the squad in the way he went about his duties.
‘Rassie is the type of person that doesn’t want everybody to just talk about him, because his outlook is that everything is about the team’s success and not individual issues,’ Louw told the website.
‘He is the type of person that doesn’t look for sympathy or empathy. His inner circle was clearly aware of it. In terms of his work as a head coach, you could never tell that anything was wrong with him.
‘He coached us for 18 months and throughout the process nobody was really aware of the illness. It never affected his passion or vision. That tells you a lot about the man.
‘Everybody has their own problems to handle and that’s something that he pointed out a lot in team discussions, especially what pressure involves. It puts things in context. For Rassie, the only thing that mattered was to get the Bok team into the best condition and in that he regard he passed.
‘I don’t think we as a team were aware. I knew about it. Rassie’s way of handling it was to not let the squad get concerned about it. Rassie is a tough guy. There is a reason why he played Test rugby.’
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