“The coaches can manage the playing and training workloads, but we need to look after the off-field workload as well,” says SA director of rugby Rassie Erasmus. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

The Springboks have strengthened their management resources for Rugby World Cup year by creating a new role to look after player affairs and welfare.

Eugene Henning, the chief executive of MyPlayers (the players’ representative body), has been seconded to the Springboks for the 2019 international season, joining the team management until the end of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Henning will link up with Springbok management with immediate effect, slotting into the current planning schedule for the forthcoming international season, which comprises a shortened version of the Rugby Championship and the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“Professional players face multiple demands,” said SA director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.

“The coaches can manage the playing and training workloads, but we need to look after the off-field workload as well.

“The management of player wellness will be a very important focus area for us this year, and it’s great to have someone with Eugene’s unique insight and experience on board to assist.

“By the time the Rugby World Cup kicks off in September in Japan, our players would have been involved in pre-season training, a Super Rugby campaign, various Springbok alignment and training camps, played in the Rugby Championship and have a comprehensive RWC training programme under their belt.

“It’s a very busy schedule that demands a lot of training, travelling and playing time, and if we want them to be focused, well-conditioned, fresh and ready for the World Cup then we have to look at how we manage their individual workloads.

“And by workload, I just don’t mean training and playing time – those are obviously the main activities items for a player – but we know it takes more than that to be successful on the pitch.

“We also have to take into consideration a host of other important activities that happen in the background, such as medical and conditioning preparation, the various daily planning and preparation sessions, media, PR and commercial engagements.

“On top of that, we (need) to take into account that they actually have their own personal and family affairs to look after at the same time.

“So, Eugene will come on board to essentially assist the players with their day-to-day task management, and to serve as the first point of call on all player-related matters within the Springbok set-up.”

Henning, 41, has been CEO of MyPlayers since 2013. MyPlayers is responsible for the management of the collective affairs and interests of all the professional rugby players playing for South African teams.

“As a player representative body, we believe it’s a very positive initiative. By focusing on the Springbok players’ welfare and their off-field matters, we hope that we can contribute towards the overall planning and team environment leading up to the Rugby World Cup,” said Henning.

In the build-up to the international season, various Springbok training squads will attend several alignment camps in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria from March to May.

The group will assemble towards the end of the Super Rugby campaign in Pretoria for a training camp, to be attended by players not involved in the playoffs.

African News Agency (ANA)