Jacques van der Westhuyzen.

Good luck Rassie Erasmus.

That, pretty much, is all one can say about the man who will in all likelihood take charge of the Springboks now that Allister Coetzee is gone.

Erasmus may be the director of rugby at the South African Rugby Union, but he will in time be unveiled as the head coach and, boy, will he be under pressure to deliver.

If Coetzee thought he had it tough, and felt the shots kept coming his way, Erasmus is going to have it even tougher.

He is, after all, regarded by Saru, his employers, as the magician, the coach with the magic wand.

So highly do Saru rate Erasmus, the former impressive Springbok flank and coach – albeit briefly – of the Cheetahs and Stormers, that they didn’t even consider other candidates for the position of director of rugby/Bok head coach.

They went and “fetched” him and his friend Jacques Nienaber at Munster in Ireland, to join Saru for the second time to save Springbok rugby.

No interviews were done with any other candidates; Erasmus and Nienaber, said those in the know at Saru, were the men to be in charge of South African rugby going forward.

Saru have to some extent gambled on Erasmus and the expectations on him to produce the goods are now enormous.

He must now deliver – big time.

All eyes will be on every move Erasmus makes, from who he’s going to appoint to help him and Nienaber coach the Boks to who’ll be his chosen captain, to who’ll actually don the green-and-gold in the months that lie ahead.

How will he address the still hotly-talked about issue of transformation, how will he deal with the great number of players playing their rugby overseas?

It is said, if only in South Africa, that the Bok coaching job is the toughest in the world. Well, it’s going to test the new coach to the extremes. 

Let’s face it, the Boks are rock bottom, and not only did they lose their appeal on the field over the last two years, but off it as well. Winning the fans back is going to be crucial because they’re fed-up as well, make no mistake.

Erasmus, by all accounts, has a plan in place to make the turnaround strategy work, and work well. 

He is, fortunately, one of the best men out there to do the rescue job – his reputation as a thinker, planner and “rugby brain” is widely respected.

But actually getting the wins on the field won’t come easily; and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

While he is highly regarded in the rugby world, Rassie Erasmus will be judged on results, just like any other Springbok coach before him. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

Erasmus need only look at a good few men who’ve gone before him – Ian McIntosh, Harry Viljoen, Rudolf Straeuli, Heyneke Meyer, Peter de Villiers and Coetzee – coaches who were successful at provincial level or in junior rugby, but weren’t able to translate those successes over Test rugby. 

Nick Mallett and Jake White were two of the more successful coaches, but they fell out of favour with their employers, as seems to happen with every Bok coach at some stage.

The Boks need a miracle man to save them and perhaps that man is Erasmus – only time will tell, and the results will be the judge of him. 

But he must prepare himself for a bumpy ride; it won’t be easy, not by a long shot. 

Fortunately for Erasmus, he takes over at a time when things can’t surely get any worse than they already are. So, there’s only one way to go... up, hopefully.

 

The Star