Springbok coach Allister Coetzee is looking forward to preparations for the forthcoming international season after the Executive Council of SA Rugby reaffirmed its support for the Bok coach and approved the appointment of Franco Smith as new assistant coach.
REUTERS – The Springboks suffered a number of unwanted firsts last year, including a home defeat by Ireland and a loss in Italy, as well as an embarrassing 57-15 hammering at the hands of New Zealand in Durban.
Coetzee will remain at the helm, but there are changes to his technical team with assistant coach Mzwandile Stick dropping out to work with the national Under-20 side, and the addition of Cheetahs coach Franco Smith on a permanent basis.
Smith is much admired in South Africa and will work with the backs, as he did towards the end of 2016, while Johann van Graan and Matthew Proudfoot have retained their positions among the assistants.
The Boks are also on the hunt for a specialist defence coach and have been in talks with former Bok Brendan Venter, according to widespread media reports, who has a contract with Italy in the same role until 2019.
That position remains open until “contractual details are finalised”, according to a statement from SA Rugby.
“Our coaching review was focused on the Springboks and we identified two areas to give Allister Coetzee additional support at the head of our most prized national asset,” SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said.
“Franco Smith will continue the work he began with the backs and attack at the end of last year while we are very excited about the new defensive coach we have identified to address matters raised during the review.
“We expect to be able to confirm that appointment shortly.”
SA Rugby have retained Coetzee despite the side winning only four of their 12 tests in 2016, his first season at the helm of the team.
“Last year was an incredibly tough one for the Springboks and all of the rugby community suffered,” Alexander said.
“We weighed many factors in the review process but we believe that these changes will strengthen the Springbok management hand.”
The Boks are next in action in June when they host France for three test matches at home.