CAPE TOWN - Springbok assistant coach, Mzwandile Stick, says Bok coach Rassie Erasmus’ “honest” approach to unique challenges has helped unify the team. In terms of growing a more representative team at national level, Erasmus has been set a transformation target of 45 percent, while the target for the World Cup squad remains at 50 percent.
Since he took over from Allister Coetzee, Erasmus has spoken about the importance of reaching those targets, and has since kicked off his tenure by appointing the first black Springbok captain in Siya Kolisi, while he’s also fielded a transformed team, as his team sheets in the last two weeks have included seven black players for the Tests against England in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.
“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 said. “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 and the third thing was improve the image which would come after the first two were met. That was the message that was sent to everyone; players and management. Everyone is working towards that direction.”
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Stick - who earlier this week explained that his role in the Bok set-up involves a lot of off-the-ball aspects as well as sharpening the Springbok players’ decision-making and individual skills - added that the fact that Erasmus has rewarded form and given a number of players their international debuts is another of the former Munster boss’ positive contributions to the team.
“When the coach is honest with you and he tells you where you stand the players will believe in him and make sure that when they get an opportunity they grab it with both hands“ Stick said. “We took 13 debutants to America ... and then we came back and had a couple more. It shows that Rassie does give players opportunities and hopefully when it comes to the team announcement on Thursday there will be another couple of new guys.”