Jimmy Stonehouse says his decision to take up a coaching role in Japan will help him grow as a coach, writes BRENTON CHELIN.
After seven successful years with the Pumas, Stonehouse announced his resignation on Tuesday, having signed a two-year deal with Japanese Top League club Toshiba Brave Lupus.
Stonehouse admits it was a tough decision to make and one he had pondered over for 'quite some time', but ultimately it was in his best interests to move overseas in a bid to broaden his horizons and expand his coaching expertise.
'I weighed up my options and decided that it was the right time for me to go,' Stonehouse told SARugbymag.co.za. 'I've had seven good years with the Pumas, but this was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up.'
'I want to win things as a coach and the move [to Toshiba] gives me an opportunity to do that. You become a better coach by opening yourself up to new experiences and to new players.
'Toshiba have players like Frans Steyn, Richard Kahui and Cooper Vuna in their squad – all international players who have worked with some of the best coaches in the world. I'm looking forward to working with them.'
Stonehouse lamented the lack of opportunities for growth in South Africa, believing he had reached a glass ceiling with the Pumas.
'My aim is to eventually coach a Super Rugby team, but there are plenty of good coaches in South Africa and if I had stayed I'm not sure if I would have got that opportunity,' said Stonehouse, adding he still hopes to return one day.
'I hope this isn't the end of my coaching career in South Africa. I aim to learn as much as I can in Japan and return a more rounded coach who will hopefully be given a chance at a higher level.'
Stonehouse will join Toshiba as an assistant coach on a two-year deal with the option of a further two years. He admits he had received a counter-offer from the Pumas, although his decision was based on more than just the financial benefits of the move.
'I wouldn't be leaving South Africa, my friends and my family if the offer wasn't worthwhile. But it's not all about the money – I've have three previous offers to leave which I turned down.'
Stonehouse will join up with his new club in April ahead of the new Top League season, but will continue to assist the Pumas with their Vodacom Cup preparations in the interim.
According to Pumas managing director Pieter Burger, a search for Stonehouse's successor is already underway.
'There will be an appointment made, but like with all corporate companies this decision will only be made through the right processes,' said Burger.
'We will definitely not make any rush decisions, and should one be made, it will benefit all parties. There are no hard feelings with Jimmy’s resignation, but we have to move on and continue with the legacy he's leaving.'
Photo: Manus van Dyk/Gallo Images