The 52-year-old was yesterday unveiled as the new Bok tactician, taking over from Heyneke Meyer who resigned in December. Coetzee comes into the job with a wealth of experience, having been part of the 2007 World Cup-winning side coached by Jake White and also served under Harry Viljoen in 2000.
He also built the Stormers and Western Province into formidable units during his time in the Cape.
More recently, Coetzee coached the Kobe Steelers in Japan, where he says he learned a great deal about the values of respect and honesty, characteristics he wants to instil in his Bok team.
“I had a fantastic time in Japan ... the values of respect and honesty, boy, it hits you. Those values will never change and neither will I,” he said moments after being announced the Boks’ new boss.
“Things like unity, it’s a massive thing, and I want that to be a part of my management team, in the playing team, at SA Rugby. I want players to take ownership, and to not have a blame culture. Then there’s the sacrifice, you won’t get anywhere if you don’t understand sacrifice. These are the core values by which I live (by) and how my team will operate.”
Coetzee said his side would play to traditional South African strengths but that there would also be a great emphasis on decision-making at half-back, and that communication on the field would be vital.
“There’s nothing wrong with the way we’ve played (recently),” he said. “I want us to play to our strengths, that which we’re good at, we’re renowned for our physicality. I want to keep that in our game, but other teams have caught up and accepted those challenges, so we’re going to have to be smarter about where and how we use our physicality.
“There is, of course, more than one way to put pressure on the opposition; if it’s not by kicking, defending or through set-pieces, it’s through attack. What is encouraging is that a lot of the Super Rugby coaches are trying to play more with ball in hand and play wider.
“It’s really all about speed of movement, how quickly you can generate ball to attack from. That’s why there will be more emphasis on decision-making, especially at nine and 10, and communication on the field is just as vital.
“Test rugby is about winning, but the game has evolved. The players must understand they need to play a balanced game.”
After the woes at the World Cup last year, where the Boks lost to Japan and battled through their matches to eventually finish third, Coetzee said he was excited about what lay ahead. “One should be positive, I never see a glass half-empty,” he added. “With some senior players now gone we need to look at a young group coming through, but there’s an exciting balance if everyone stays fit. We’re in a good position ... I’m excited about where we’re heading.”
Coetzee’s first task will be the June series against Ireland in South Africa and he’ll go into those three Tests having worked with his squad for just two weeks. The new coach won’t have any training camps before the time, but he’s confident the Boks will be in good shape to do well.
“Whether I have six weeks or 12 weeks to prepare doesn’t matter – we have to be ready. It’s going to be my job to get everyone aligned, to buy into the culture and how we want to play,” Coetzee said. “The players must buy into what lies ahead this year, not in 2019 ... we’ve got the talent to do well anywhere.”
Coetzee and his management team will be allowed to pick players from overseas this year and he is hoping to name a 30 to 40-man squad for the series against Ireland. He is likely to only name his captain closer to the first Test.
Meanwhile, former Sevens captain and current Southern Kings assistant coach Mzwandile Stick will join Johann van Graan, who served under Meyer, as Coetzee’s assistants.
SA Rugby also confirmed yesterday that Coetzee will be able to call on the assistance of consultants if and when the need arises.
Original source: Decision-making key to Coetzee’s plan