Mzwandile Stick was shifted from pillar to post since he became part of the SA Rugby coaching department, but now new Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus says the former Blitzbok captain will have a “specific” role in the new era.
After Erasmus was finally confirmed as the man to take over from Allister Coetzee – he was awarded an unprecedented six-year contract to 2023 – attention turned to his three assistant coaches: Stick, Jacques Nienaber and Pieter de Villiers.
While Nienaber is a renowned as a defence guru and De Villiers a scrum specialist, Stick was first brought in to ostensibly “learn” from Coetzee in 2016.
Then he came the backline coach, until Franco Smith took over that portfolio later in the year, reducing Stick to an attack coach.
By 2017, Stick was out of the Bok management, and redeployed as the Junior Springboks’ backline coach.
But now the former fullback and flyhalf from Port Elizabeth is back in the senior team, and Erasmus clarified his role at his unveiling at the SuperSport studios in Randburg on Thursday.
“On Sticks – I know him really well, and my idea was always that, from when he got into the set-up two years ago, he’s got a specific skill,” the new Bok boss said.
“He was the Sevens captain and was the player of the year as the captain. He coached the Under-19s at EP, he coached the Vodacup, he was an assistant coach at Super Rugby and now with the Springboks and Junior Springboks.
“He brings a specific skill-set, which is not as a backline coach or attack coach. I’m going to utilise him in something specific, which was the intention two years ago – more the Sevens, off-the-ball work-rate, getting players into position.
“It is something that he is really familiar with, and I think he is going to bring massive value.”
Erasmus added that all three assistant coaches will be working closely with the four Super Rugby franchises throughout the season ahead of the first Bok Test against Wales in Washington DC on June 2.
“The Mobi-Unit doesn’t exist anymore – it was dismantled when I went to Ireland. But I’ve got those guys back into the mix as assistant coaches: Jacques Nienaber, Pieter de Villiers and Mzwandile Stick. They have been going around to the four big franchises anyway – Bulls, Sharks, Lions and Stormers,” Erasmus said.
“We’ve been coaching with them… Pieter de Villiers is on tour with the Stormers currently; Jacques will probably go with the Sharks; myself and Sticks are travelling around, so we are trying to keep that going and will switch it around.”