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Ken Borland



In Allister the Springboks have the right man 0

Posted on April 18, 2016 by Ken

 

Although I would have liked to have seen some big-name overseas input in the management team, in Allister Coetzee the Springboks have a coach who is vastly experienced, has excellent man-management skills and will avoid the transformation pitfalls that plagued his predecessor, which is vital in this country.

Coetzee was a strong contender for the post way back in 2008, but those were the days when Cheeky Watson held powerful sway in South African rugby and the disgraced Eastern Province president was firmly in the Peter de Villiers camp.

In a way, I’m actually quite pleased now that Coetzee did not get the job straight after he had been part of Jake White’s management team that won the World Cup in 2007. The former scrumhalf star has spent the last eight years gaining more and more experience, to the extent that of all the Springbok coaches appointed since 1992, he has the most experience of them all.

Early coaches like John Williams, Ian McIntosh and Kitch Christie had no international background, while Andre Markgraaff and Carel du Plessis had not coached at SuperRugby level. Nick Mallett, Harry Viljoen and Rudolf Straeuli had experience in that competition, but were not part of successful Springbok management teams before their promotion.

White and De Villiers both won the junior world cup but had never been head coach of a SuperRugby franchise, while Heyneke Meyer had success with the Bulls but only a little involvement with Springbok teams.

Critics of Coetzee point to the dour style of rugby he played in making four SuperRugby playoffs, winning the South African Conference three times and claiming two Currie Cup titles, but it’s important to look at that in context.

When he took over an ailing Stormers in 2010, the then laws of the game favoured teams that played territory and could defend well, at times the less ball you had the better. Think of how well the Springboks did around that time and what sort of rugby they played, beating the All Blacks five times between 2008 and 2011.

Of course, as the laws changed, Coetzee said he tried to make sure the Stormers’ play evolved as well, but it was not as easy as just applying a new lick of paint.

Players who have worked with Coetzee – and not just with the Stormers, Fourie du Preez for instance – have the utmost respect for his ability as a coach. The 52-year-old will have the attacking and skills input of Mzwandile Stick, one of the best Sevens players this country has ever produced and obviously a talented coach in his own right given that he steered Eastern Province to the U19 Currie Cup title.

In terms of an overseas appointment, Saru probably don’t have the money and the top overseas names probably don’t have the inclination or the inside knowledge to get involved in the murky politics of our rugby, so local will have to be lekker for now. CEO Jurie Roux said Coetzee is welcome to call in any short-term consultants he requires.

Much has been made of Saru’s goal of making the Springbok team 50% representative by the next World Cup and Coetzee said it shouldn’t be an issue for him. He managed to field a transformed Stormers side and keep winning at the same time.

The talent is there to fulfil any quotas, but if Coetzee does run into problems now and then in terms of balancing his side, at least nobody is going to call him a racist as Watson once tried to imply.

The Springbok coaching reins have undoubtedly been handed to the right man, although an efficient organisation would have given Coetzee much more time to prepare for a tough debut when Ireland come to these shores in June.

Mooar teaches Sharks right time to counter-attack 0

Posted on February 04, 2015 by Ken

The Sharks have been enjoying a fortnight of input from New Zealand-born attack coach Brad Mooar and, according to veteran wing Odwa Ndungane, the specialist advice centred around being able to pick the right time to turn defence into offence.

“It’s been nice to have Brad around because the Kiwis have been the leading attacking teams. It’s about creating something out of nothing and he’s given us some small ideas. It’s about vision, decision-making and also confidence. The structure is there, but we need to see the opportunities when they present themselves elsewhere. The call might be to go left, but then there’s space on the right and everyone needs to adapt, everyone needs to know what to do,” Ndungane told The Citizen on Thursday.

The Sharks were in the bottom five for tries scored in the 2014 SuperRugby tournament, with just 32 in 16 matches, and Ndungane admitted their sluggishness on attack needed to be sorted out.

“We had our fair share of criticism for not scoring tries, but we want to play and score tries, so we’ll take any help we can get. Brad tweaked a few small things, the structure’s there but it’s just about shaping it to use all opportunities. It comes down to knowing when to play, about opportunities in the right areas.

“A lot of times last season I could see space on the outside, but it’s about having confidence in the guys around you. Everyone needs to be aware and communicating and the inside players mustn’t take up the space,” the Springbok said.

Ndungane said sharpening their skills in terms of running lines, catching and passing and when to push off or cut back in, was part of Mooar’s sessions, and the Southland coach told The Sharks website that his goal was to provide the team with the weapons to carry out the greater attacking emphasis that new coach Gary Gold wants.

“It’s about looking at different ways of attacking, looking at the little things,” Mooar said. “This is a very simple game, but as coaches we tend to over-complicate things. We need to go back to basics, so this is really simple stuff.

“Somewhere between the South African philosophy and the New Zealand philosophy is a very powerful beast. The main difference between rugby in the two countries is simply a decision-making thing. In New Zealand we are a lot more comfortable allowing opportunity over system. In South Africa, traditionally it’s been a lot more system-based. When an opportunity is presented, you must stay in the system, but if space opens, why not play it?

“I think that would be the key difference. Once that happens, it’s about providing the skills around that. What do we need to make that happen?

“The players are more than keen to learn; they have been outstanding. I think they are quite keen to attack, and it might not always be about attacking more, just attacking better.

“There are a lot of big men and good athletes here, but it’s about a mindset – becoming and being comfortable playing and taking opportunities. Knowing that if they have a go they’re not going to be criticised on Monday,” Mooar said.

 

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