Cape Town - The appointment of Gert Smal as the Director of Rugby for Western Province will not provide a “quick-fix” for the poorly-performing Stormers side.
Western Province Rugby Union (WPRU) president Thelo Wakefield, who unveiled Smal as the new Director of Rugby at the Newlands-based union on Monday, said the appointment was not a “knee-jerk” reaction to the Stormers' record of five defeats in six matches this season.
“It was already decided in January 2014 that WP will appoint a Director of Rugby so this appointment is not a knee-jerk reaction to the Stormers' defeats on tour,” said Wakefield.
“Smal's appointment is also not meant to be a quick fix to turn around the fortunes of the Stormers. We (WPRU) are dealing with a process rather than an event (Super Rugby). He will head up rugby matters in the Union from Under-13 right up to the Stormers team.”
Smal's appointment is effective from April 1 and though the Stormers play their next match at Newlands at the weekend, it is unlikely that the appointment will have any bearing on the beleaguered team's performance.
For now, Smal feels his role in the Stormers' set-up will be to lend support.
“I need to give the steam the support they need and see how we can get back all the injured players in the best condition,” said Smal.
“I have met all the (WP) coaches this morning and let them know that I am here to support them. As far as the Stormers go, everything must be done gradually because you don't want to confuse the players.
“I'll only get involved on the training field if I'm needed.”
Smal said he has been following the Stormers' progress and it was his wish that the team produced the brand of rugby for which the Newlands-based union became famous for in the past.
“With the present (Stormers) team there is the burning issue of (a lack of) attack but one cannot change everything now,” said Smal.
“I would like to see us play a typical WP/Stormers brand of rugby. I want to see players express themselves.”
Wakefield went to great lengths to explain to the members of the media that the Stormers' coaches will be not dismissed for the team's lack of success.
“It will be one of Smal's tasks to evaluate the coaches, and then WP will act on his recommendations,” said Wakefield.
“As from now, all coaches will report to Smal, including (head coach) Allister Coetzee.”
Wakefield, a former WP team manager, said a number of candidates for the director's post had been considered. However, his association with Smal, a former WP Currie Cup coach, tipped the scales in his favour.
“I have worked alongside Smal and he has the qualities that fit in with the ethos of WP rugby,” said Wakefield.
“I learnt to know him as a player, a coach and a person and I'm sure he'll do WP rugby proud in his new position.”