Time for Allister to step out of Eddie’s shadow

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White was on the brink of being fired but somehow held on to his job.

The former schoolteacher knew he had to do something drastic if he was going to resurrect the Boks’ World Cup campaign the following year.

He brought in Rassie Erasmus as a technical adviser, and the Boks started 2007 with a bang by destroying a depleted England team and Samoa in May and June.

Erasmus soon left when he was snapped up by Western Province, and White then brought in former Wallaby mentor Eddie Jones just before the World Cup.

“There will be a few subtle things he has taught the players,” White said at the time. “We will be stupid if we do not make use of his knowledge. Eddie is impressed by the power and pace of our players. It will be good for the team if he can add some detail. The Wallabies offer more on attack than most other countries.”

The Boks, though, already had a backline coach in Allister Coetzee, and Jones’ arrival could have been regarded as a snub for the former Saru captain.

Jones was hailed as the mastermind following the World Cup, with the South Africans adding some exciting attacking touches to their usual power game.

Coetzee, though, said in a 2008 interview he didn’t feel hurt by the general feeling that it was Jones who had transformed the Bok backline. “No, not at all! People are entitled to their opinion. We worked with a young Springbok side and in particular a backline that never had a pivot or a consistent flyhalf at the time,” he said. “I gave regular reports to Jake and SA Rugby about the inconsistency in the team, particularly flyhalf. Since Butch James has played without injuries, everything came together nicely.

“So just at the start of our World Cup planning, it was in black and white. And I gave a report to SA Rugby informing them this group of players in the backline would come of age this year. And that’s what happened.

“Eddie is a great man. I enjoyed Eddie Jones and have been in contact with him up until yesterday. We share ideas. He is at Saracens. We’ve been SMSing and e-mailing each other. And he is a great man.

“Eddie Jones, with his experience of getting so close to the World Cup with Australia, who can’t learn from Eddie Jones? So, there are no hard feelings between Eddie and me. It didn’t get to me at all.”

But Coetzee hasn’t quite shed that sentiment. And the manner in which Jones has rejuvenated an England team knocked out of a home World Cup in just 12 months has added fuel to that fire, as Coetzee has battled to get the Boks going since taking over in April, after Heyneke Meyer left the job late last year.

England have won the Six Nations and the Grand Slam, and whitewashed Australia 3-0 Down Under in a nine-match winning streak under Jones.

In contrast, the Boks have lost five out of nine Tests in 2016 - including a loss to Argentina and a record 57-15 defeat to the All Blacks - and ended third in the Rugby Championship behind New Zealand and Australia.

Coetzee - perhaps partly due to his late appointment, but also as a result of injuries, interim coaching staff and some overseas-based players not being available at different stages - has flirted between playing a more attacking game and going back to the “traditional” Springbok style of play.

But his selections have generally been conservative, and none more so than for today’s big showdown with Jones and England at Twickenham (4.30pm SA time kick-off).

His choice of Willem Alberts at openside flank and Pieter-Steph du Toit at blindside, as well as Damian de Allende at No 12, indicates the type of game Coetzee wants the Boks to play. He wants to overpower the big England pack, with Pat Lambie kicking the penalties.

Jones has tried to throw the Boks and Coetzee off-stride by labelling the South Africans as bullies, and on Thursday, he went a step further by stating that they “play the game like a physical game of chess, like chess with steroids”. He added that the Boks never change and do it with force.

So it’s time for Coetzee to step out of Jones’s shadow.

ashfak.mohamed@inl.co.za

@ashfakmohamed

Weekend Argus

Original source: Time for Allister to step out of Eddie's shadow

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