DURBAN – Anybody who knows Rassie Erasmus will know that a six-year contract with Saru does not remotely mean that he will have a whistle around his neck on the training field between now and 2024.
Yes, Rassie is going to coach the Springboks this year and surely on to the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, but then he will settle into the job that some folks forget is his actual priority - Director of Rugby overseeing all Saru teams.
Right now it is the Springboks that need the most urgent attention and that is why Rassie is stepping in to sort out the chaos and getting the Boks into shape to seriously challenge the English in a three-Test series in June.
I think that Rassie will do such a good job of channelling the frustration of Bok players who are “gatvol” of being humiliated that they will win the series against England.
Do you think the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Malcolm Marx, Duane Vermeulen (he will return), Steven Kitshoff and Siya Kolisi laugh along with the rest of us when the disparaging jokes about the latest Bok disaster spread across social media?
In 2018, the Boks will have a clear plan on how to play, they will be astutely selected (confused selection was one of Allister Coetzee’s biggest failings) and they will be brimming with intent after four years of doing their best but not being quite sure of what the coaching staff wanted.
Fans of Rassie describe him as shrewd, wily, intelligent and innovative. His detractors might feel he is cunning and extremely adept at looking after Numero Uno when the fodder hits the fan.
Whatever you feel about Rassie, he is a meticulous planner. There is nothing ad hoc about his style of coaching.
He is already weighing up the right man for the job after the 2019 World Cup. It won’t be him.
He is Director of Rugby and over the next two years he will be monitoring the performances of the likes of John Mitchell at the Bulls and Johan Ackermann at Gloucester.
We need no reminding of how Ackermann reinvented the Lions from a bunch of losers axed from Super Rugby to finalists in that competition two years in a row.
The Lions could well have vanished off the local rugby landscape after being heartlessly cast adrift from top flight rugby, but Ackermann pulled the players together and achieved nothing short of a miracle. Imagine what the Ysterman (iron man) could do with the Springboks over the four years leading up to the 2023 World Cup in France, especially with Rassie working behind the scenes to support him?
It is tremendously exciting, and to make it even more mouth-watering, what if Rassie throws in the rugby intelligence of Mitchell, the former All Blacks coach who is putting the pride back into the Bulls?
Mitchell is one tough rugger bugger.
He has hit a few potholes in his coaching career but he admits he has learned a great deal from the confrontations he has had with players at the Force and the Lions.
There are other coaches who deserve to have their names in the hat.
Let’s see how Robert du Preez progresses with the Sharks, and what about Deon Davids, who has turned water into wine in Port Elizabeth?
Last year he had almost no resources, no momentum from previous competitions, and yet look at the excellent results of the Kings last year.
Ackermann and Mitchell coaching the Boks in tandem at the 2023 World Cup is tantalising.
Let Rassie right the ship over the next two years, and then let him recede into the background and play mastermind while serious heavyweight coaches drill the Boks into World Cup champions once more.