CAPE TOWN – Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick and flyhalf Elton Jantjies have heaped praise on Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus for his open and honest communication with the team, including around the sensitive subject of transformation.
Erasmus has reiterated since the start of his tenure that he remains dedicated to reaching the transformation targets that have been set out for the Springbok side by the sports ministry and SA Rugby.
Over the course of this season, the aim is for at least 45% of the players who represent the Boks to be players of colour, while the target for next year will be a 50-50 split.
Chatting to the media on Tuesday ahead of the Boks' third and final Test against England in Cape Town, Stick said that the squad had been buoyed by the manner in which Erasmus had openly discussed this aspect of his mandate.
"We live in a very unique country and to have someone like Rassie who doesn't shy away from the challenges that we're facing is great," Stick commented. "He's a very honest guy and he doesn't play hide and seek about stuff.
"I remember the first alignment camps we had with the players, Rassie mentioned three things to them. He said we had to go back to a winning culture, we had to transform the team to be what it is required, and that the image would come after that. That was the message that was sent to everyone; players and management. Everyone is working towards that direction."
Stick confirmed that the Boks would make a few changes to the team for this weekend's clash at Newlands, and Jantjies is expected to be one of the players who are likely to come back into the match-day squad after missing out last Saturday.
The Lions star said he had been encouraged by the way he knew exactly where he stood under Erasmus.
"Rassie is someone special. Some of the things he picks up on the field … I don’t think other coaches are even looking for those things. He’s a very different coach has all translated into a Bok squad that is more together than it has been for some time."
The Springbok camp certainly does appear to be a happy one at the moment, which has undoubtedly been aided by the two recent victories achieved over England.
Jantjies said there was a real determination in the group to continue improving every week.
"Everyone has got the same mindset and work ethic, and everybody just wants to achieve something. That's something you will see off the field; this group looks happy and they're enjoying rugby and that's something that comes from the boss."
African News Agency (ANA)