‘Matfield not ready to coach Bulls’

What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about Saturday's matches involving South African teams.

Bulls vs Cheetahs

'The Cheetahs' win came off the back of good physicality at the breakdown, turnovers, solid defence, and then they got themselves into positions where they could score tries. There was such an enthusiasm to play. Now Franco Smith when he started [as Cheetahs coach] said he wanted to bring the smiles back onto the faces of the players and he's certainly done that. In two weeks, he may not have fixed the Cheetahs' defensive frailties, but he's certainly improved them tremendously.

'Boom Prinsloo had a fabulous game for the Cheetahs, I counted four turnovers from him in the first half. He had an absolutely massive game but had to go off in the 53rd minute. He plays to the ball and has made up for the loss of Heinrich Brüssow. He completely dominated the breakdown and contact area. He was the reason the Cheetahs dominated that first half the way they did.

'Pierre Spies is a tremendously nice bloke, but he hasn't had a good couple of seasons. Unfortunately the team reflects the way that the coach coaches and the captain leads. And this Bulls team does not play with fire in their bellies. They just go through the motions.

'I think Frans [Ludeke] has done the honourable thing and the correct thing [by resigning as Bulls coach]. He was under a lot of pressure after the first two or three games of the season, and there was a lot of talk that the [Bulls] board had lost patience with him and that they wanted to make early changes. I think the board was correct to allow him to fulfill his contract for this Super Rugby campaign, but it hasn't been successful enough as far as the Bulls are concerned. The franchise is a wealthy one, they've won the competition on three occasions and they expect to make the play-offs every year. It will be very interesting to see where they go from here and who they appoint to the Super Rugby coaching position.

'The Bulls' performance in Frans's last game was the same as the Cheetahs' performance in Naka Drotské's last game. You may not have lost the change room as the coach but you're not getting any reaction from the players. There's not the enthusiasm that you would expect on the field, to hit rucks and take the ball up, or the eagerness on defence. The players are just going through the motions.

'You got the impression that both the Bulls and Cheetahs needed change, and they've got that. Franco Smith has a very good win under his belt now and it just shows what can happen with a young enthusiastic coach. The Bulls desperately need a change and a new voice so that they can get a reaction out of the players.

'Victor [Matfield] has got coaching ambitions, but it should be as an assistant, or perhaps in the Varsity Cup where he can learn his way. There seems to be a trend now that players want to get straight from the playing field into the coaching box. [Former England captain] Martin Johnson tried it. He was a highly respected player who'd had a fantastic career and it didn't work out at all well for him [as a coach]. A coach requires certain personality traits and the more mature you are, the better you get. When you finish as a player you need to go through a club, or a Varsity Cup side [as a coach], then you get to a situation in your mid-40s when you can take a [top] team.'

Sharks vs Stormers

'This was a Stormers B team and the youngsters played with a lot of enthusiasm.

'The Sharks' skills levels were very poor in the first half but at least on defence they showed physicality and that they were trying to play for something more than just the game's result. They tried to give Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis and Willem Alberts a good send-off. They got stuck into the Stormers and there was a lot of happiness about the tries they scored.

'Since Bismarck has come back from suspension, his performances have been absolutely outstanding. He was consistency one of the best Sharks players on their overseas tour and he has finished his Sharks career with dignity. He gave his all today, and I think he can be very proud of what he has done. He has regained his position as South Africa's premier hooker ahead of Adriaan Strauss, whose game has suffered because the Bulls haven't performed.'

Five lessons from the past weekend's Super Rugby matches

Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

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Nick Mallett