Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has explained why the Springboks have opted against a full-time kicking coach for the Rugby World Cup.
THE SPRINGBOKS opted against a full-time kicking coach for the Rugby World Cup to accommodate all the kickers in the squad, because their coaches differ at club level.
SA Rugby’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said they took all of the kickers into consideration when deciding not to bring in someone for the duration of the tournament.
It was the same in 2019, when South Africa won the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan without the aid of a dedicated kicking coach.
Having done it successfully in 2019 is probably a big reason why Erasmus and Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber decided to stick with what worked.
Host nation France have SA kicking coach Vlok Cilliers.
The Springboks face Scotland (on Sunday), Romania (September 17), Ireland (September 23) and Tonga (October 1) during the pool stage of the World Cup.
Flyhalf Manie Libbok and Damian Willemse have Stormers guru Gareth Wright as their kicking coach, while Faf de Klerk, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie le Roux and Andre Esterhuizen – who can also take on the responsibilities – all have different coaches at their respective clubs.
“The players are open to consult with their kicking coaches,” Erasmus said about not having a permanent one in the squad.
“Say you have a Bulls flyhalf or one from the Lions or Western Province – which team’s kicking coach do you then bring into the Springbok set-up? Out of the 52 weeks of the year, he will work about 14 with the Boks and the rest at the club.
“If we bring Gareth Wright in, then we have to bring in Faf’s kicking coach. We have to bring in Handre Pollard’s from Leicester. We work with them (the kickers) as much as we can on this side, and we do get information in.
“A guy like (former Bok flyhalf) Braam van Straaten phoned me a couple of times to give advice. It is not just that simple to get a specific guy’s kicking coach in and make him part of the Springbok team.
“It is a big thing becoming part of the Springbok management team in a World Cup year.”
Erasmus said he is thankful that someone like Libbok has an open relationship with Wright, who has been helpful in making a few adjustments to the Bok flyhalf and his kicking.
The national team tried to get a technical appointment done ahead of the tournament by bringing respected former international referee Nigel Owens from Wales on board to deal with refereeing matters, but he could not link up with the squad.
Despite that, he still gave advice from a non-SA perspective to assist the defending champions in their preparation.
Erasmus, the 2019 World Cup-winning coach, added that they also had fruitful meetings with World Rugby and they want to win their respect back.
“The communication is more open and relaxed (with World Rugby). The players worked hard at it, Jacques and I worked hard at it. If you look at our last couple of games, we only received one card for Pieter-Steph (du Toit),” he said.
“There were no major incidents that we maybe had in the past. We are on a clean page, and can look each other in the eyes and go on the field knowing there are no hard feelings.”