JOHANNESBURG – Springbok rugby fans should be cheering and applauding head coach Rassie Erasmus for including Swys de Bruin in his planning process and coaching team for the June Tests against Wales and England.
While the Lions coach isn’t an official member of the management team, he will serve as a consultant for the four Tests in June; the best news yet in the new era under Erasmus.
The Bok coach has done something that is so clearly obvious it is surprising the national coaches who have gone before didn’t also involve the provincial head coaches. As Erasmus said last week when he made the announcement to involve De Bruin; the provincial and franchise coaches work with the players so much more than the Bok coach does and know them so much better.
And they - men like De Bruin - can add plenty of insight and furbish so much knowledge and information about certain individuals. They are really the coaches who know how to get the best out of the players, they know what makes them tick, and they know what doesn’t.
A case in point would be Elton Jantjies, or even Andries Coetzee and Lionel Mapoe... examples used here because they are Lions players and De Bruin is the Lions’ head coach. All three men are superstars at Super Rugby level, they produce high-quality rugby week after week, yet haven’t quite hit those same highs at Test level.
If their provincial coach knows how to get the best out of them and can let the Bok coach into the secret then surely it’s a win for South Africa; and that is why getting the provincial coaches involved is such a positive move.
Sharing information and knowledge is not something South African rugby coaches have been too good at over the years, but it really is time that the Boks were put first and that everyone worked more closely together to ensure the national team became the force we all know it is capable of being.
In spite of all the hundreds of local players doing their thing abroad, the amount of talent SA produces is mind boggling and the Boks should really be the world leader in the game. The only thing holding them back is co-operation between the coaches and teams, getting the selections right and having the right coaching team, because the players are there.
Hopefully the appointment of Erasmus as coach will prove successful, but the signs are already positive - the involvement of De Bruin being a step in the right direction.
The Bulls’ John Mitchell must surely also be involved at some stage - perhaps during the Rugby Championship - while it will do no harm for Erasmus to have chats with former Bok coaches and players, and whoever else he deems can help make the national team great again.
The only thing that matters in international sport is the result and winning, and Erasmus and his management team, and the players, will be measured by how many they win and lose. So, whatever needs to be done, before the match, to win must be done; no matter who is called on to lend a helping hand.