Nienaber and Davids will be two formidable lieutenants for Rassie
Springboks / 28 December 2019, 11:30am / mark keohane
Jacques Nienaber’s appointment as Springbok coach will be confirmed midway through January. Former Kings coach Deon Davids will also be named as the new Springbok assistant coach.
World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus will continue to oversee the Springboks' coaching staff as National Director of Rugby. Nienaber, who has been Erasmus’s right-hand man and defensive specialist at Western Province, the Stormers, Munster and the Springboks, will report directly to Erasmus, who in turn will continue to report to the CEO Jurie Roux.
South African Rugby Union president Mark Alexander was hopeful of announcing the re-jigged Bok coaching structure before the end of the year but Davids has not yet signed his contract.
The delay is down to the festive season and the unavailability of Davids’s legal representatives to work through the contract with their client.
Davids has in principle agreed to join the Springboks. He has been on Erasmus’s radar for some time and, despite a dismal record with the Kings in Pro 14, it is known that Erasmus has a high regard for Davids’s technical ability and his coaching ability.
Davids’s strength is working with the forwards, although Erasmus will continue to add to the coaching of the forwards, as he did at the World Cup.
Matt Proudfoot, who was the forwards coaching specialist under Erasmus and his predecessor Allister Coetzee, will join Eddie Jones’s England coaching team in 2020.
Mzwandile Stick and former Ireland and Munster man Felix Jones will continue to work with Nienaber in 2020. Stick was a revelation in the two-season tenure of Erasmus. His role was defined, he was empowered and given the responsibility of improving the all-round skills and he flourished in the position.
Erasmus has been very low key post the World Cup win. He has taken time off to be with his family, has hardly conducted a media interview and has deliberately removed himself from the public eye.
I spoke with him a few days ago and he said he would be back at the office in the second week of January, a week before Saru's offices officially open. His focus will be on strengthening his relationship with the Super Rugby and Pro 14 coaches and also on giving them all the necessary support over the next five months.
He will also begin his planning towards defending the Rugby Championship title and the 2021 British & Irish Lions visit.
Consistency, said Erasmus, was going to be the barometer for the Springboks and SA Rugby in general, in 2020 and beyond. The challenge, he said, was to maintain and sustain a winning culture.
The Sharks, Lions and Stormers will start 2020 with new head coaches and Bulls head coach Pote Human has only been in the job for one season. It is the most inexperienced South African Super Rugby coaching quartet in the competition’s history, but Erasmus believes it is also one that could prove very dynamic because of the youthfulness of the coaches.
Saru President (Mark) Alexander, in a chat, said he had never experienced such calm and such clarity with regard to the Springboks' coaching staff. He applauded Erasmus for the role he has played and for the one he will play in 2020.
"It is the healthiest Springbok rugby has ever been at the completion of a year," said Alexander. "And we simply can’t afford to lose momentum."