New Bok coach Allister Coetzee says he will definitely look at overseas options for the home matches against Ireland, and has already had telephone conversations with two former Stormers players, France-based No 8 Vermeulen and Bath openside flank Louw.
“I’m currently talking to those players, telephonically. I discussed a few issues with them,” Coetzee said on Monday.
“The policy is that I can draw from those players, they are eligible to play. One would be stupid if they are not there, because for me it’s about selecting the best players for South Africa... and making sure the Springboks are successful in the home series against Ireland.
“I have spoken to Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen, I will be speaking to another few players over the next few weeks. I don’t want to distract them... but I will be chatting to more than those two players.”
Kitshoff was in Heyneke Meyer’s extended squad for the World Cup after an outstanding Super Rugby campaign last year for the Stormers under Coetzee’s guidance.
Kitshoff, nicknamed “Rooi Gevaar”, was arguably the best loosehead in Super Rugby in terms of his scrumming, while his ability in the tight-loose has really come on during his time with French club Bordeaux.
But Coetzee is also keeping the door open for the Du Plessis brothers, Bismarck and Jannie, while the names of former Bulls flanker Jacques du Plessis and a forgotten star like Ashley Johnson also came up in an interview.
“There are a lot of players who I just need to touch base with,” Coetzee said.
“Those guys still have a lot to offer to South African rugby. We still have to plan our strategy going forward in terms of the overseas-based players, and SA Rugby will give us guidance in that regard. But for this year, we have to push the best available team on to the pitch.”
It’s not quite clear yet if Coetzee’s Bok captain will be one of the players currently plying their trade overseas. Vermeulen and Louw would certainly be strong candidates. Coetzee, though, says it’s not something that is going to give him sleepless nights before he announces his first Bok squad towards the end of next month.
“Firstly, we have to understand that we have a responsibility to grow our leaders. Suddenly we find ourselves in a situation where Jean de Villiers, Victor Matfield and Fourie du Preez have all retired,” Coetzee said.
“People have asked me if I am going to look overseas, or if I am going to go with a captain based at home. But for me, we have to took at the character of the person. What does a Springbok captain look like?
“What does the player need to have to be the next captain?
“The Springbok captain’s first job is to help the country win Test matches. He needs to pick himself and he needs to have the respect of his fellow players.
“The player and the coach need to have a good relationship to implement the game plan on the field. But he also needs to have the rugby intelligence to make plans and find solutions for problems. He also needs to be a guy who can bring the team together.”
Meanwhile, the South African Rugby Union on Monday confirmed that their general manager for rugby, Rassie Erasmus, had accepted a new position as director of rugby at Munster in Ireland. Erasmus will take up his new position following the Springboks’ home series against Ireland.
“It will be difficult to replace Rassie, but we’ll make an appointment in due course. The Rugby Department is functioning extremely well with experts at all levels ensuring the department runs smoothly on a daily basis,” Saru chief executive Jurie Roux said in a statement.
“Hopefully this will not be the end of Rassie’s contribution to rugby in South Africa. He’s done so much, as a player, team manager and coach for various teams in South Africa, and in the last four years at SA Rugby. We’d like to wish him well for his future endeavours.”
There were reports that Erasmus was disappointed he didn’t get the job as Springbok head coach. But the former Bok flank said it was a personal decision, and wished Coetzee well on his new journey.
“The decision to accept Munster’s offer was ultimately a personal one, which I made with my family, at what we believe is the right time. Munster is without doubt the best club for me to experience something different as part of the personal goals I have set,” Erasmus said.
Original source: Bok captain Vermeulen?