South African cricket risks losing one of its most promising coaches to New Zealand with the bombshell news that Titans mentor Rob Walter will be moving there before the start of the new season.
Walter has won four trophies in his three-year term with the Titans, including both the Sunfoil Series and RamSlam T20 Challenge crowns last season, and, with Russell Domingo’s position as national coach under threat, was one of the favourites to succeed him along with Highveld Lions mentor Geoff Toyana.
The 41-year-old told The Citizen, however, that he did not feel he was likely to become Proteas coach anytime soon, so he felt the opportunity to work overseas and broaden his horizons was too good to refuse.
“I’ve had three years in South Africa, which is a unique coaching environment, and I understand the challenges, positives and strengths of the game here. I feel it’s time to spread my wings, growth only happens in challenging situations and I need to think about my next step as a coach. I have certain aspirations and I need to make the best decisions to reach them. Obviously I want to coach a national team and the first priority is my own, but if you look at the Proteas and the time frames involved, in the short-term it might not happen here. I hope my name would have popped up in the discussions, but I don’t think I’m next in line. So how do I grow in the next four years?,” Walter said.
Walter’s departure adds to the exodus of many young players from these shores and the former Proteas conditioning coach admitted that he would also be open to coaching the New Zealand team if that opportunity arose.
Walter said he would take only fond memories of his time with the Titans and he was positive about South African cricket in general.
“It was a massively tough decision to make because I love it at the Titans, I’ve had an amazing time and they’ve treated me so well. I hope my passion for the franchise came through as well. But I have a young family and with my first son just being born, it’s the right time to move. It’s sad, nobody has stood in the way of my opportunities in South Africa and unfortunately I wasn’t able to take up a position with the SA A team this winter, but it’s a great opportunity with Otago in New Zealand,” he said.
Jacques Faul, the CEO of the Titans, said that he was still recovering from the shock of losing their coach.
“Rob has been amazing, in 13 years as a CEO I’ve worked with a lot of coaches and he was an absolute delight to work with. There’s no ego, a great work ethic and we will certainly miss him.
“The board will meet next week to decide on the process of appointing a new coach,” Faul said.