JOHANNESBURG – Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick has called his axing early last year from former head coach Allister Coetzee’s coaching team “a huge punch” to his confidence.
Stick, who was appointed backs boss by Coetzee when he became head coach of the national team at the beginning of the 2016, was let go after just the one season.
The former SA Sevens captain was seen as the scapegoat for the poor results in 2016, and replaced in the coaching team by two men for the 2017 season – Franco Smith and Brendan Venter.
The results last year were just as poor and it came as no surprise when Coetzee was sacked, along with the majority of his coaching team. In came Rassie Erasmus, who quickly roped in Stick, who is currently working with the backs in the new-look national team.
Mzwandile Stick on Siya Kolisi as Springbok captain. "I'm so excited for him and extremely proud, as someone coming from the Eastern Cape. He is a hard working individual and has very good experience and leaders around him in the team." @MTNza
On Tuesday morning, ahead of this weekend’s first Bok Test of the year – against Wales in Washington – Stick spoke about his experiences of just over a year ago when he was dropped by the Boks coaching staff.
“I’m a very strong character to where I was (then). At that stage in my career ... you’re right, yes, it gave me a huge punch,” said Stick about being dropped from the Bok coaching team.
“You keep asking yourself questions and doubting yourself. But if you know yourself and know where you come from those kind of challenges become a part of you. They are challenges I have had to face.
“I knew the day I became a coach I’d have to face challenges, I knew I would have to go through potholes and over speed-bumps.
“But I know my value, and I know what I can contribute to this team. I believe I have what it takes, I have no doubts about that.”
Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick. "good to be back with the Springboks. The players are working hard for the match in Washington. We know Wales will be tough opponents." @MTNza pic.twitter.com/shwB8kp3ep
Stick worked with the Junior Springboks last season and has the full backing of new head coach Erasmus.
“He’s got a specific skill we want to use at the Boks; it’s not in attack or defence, but rather what happens off the ball,” said Erasmus when he was named as the new Bok coach earlier this year.
“It’s about work-rate, ensuring players are in the right positions to take a pass, something that’s familiar with him as a former Sevens player and something that will add value to the Boks.”