Springboks coach Allister Coetzee speaks at a press conference. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Under-fire Springbok coach Allister Coetzee remained defiant when he arrived back in South Africa on Monday morning, insisting his team are headed in the right direction.

Coetzee’s Boks finished the 2017 season with just seven wins and the November tour was again a major disappointment with his team managing to only beat France and Italy. They lost to Ireland and Wales, to go with earlier defeats this year against New Zealand and two drawn Tests against Australia. The only other wins came against Argentina (twice) and France (three in June).

But despite growing calls for him to be sacked – or to resign - the Bok boss, who took over from Heyneke Meyer last year, insists he is on track with his team.

“We are much better off than this time last year,” said Coetzee when he arrived back in South Africa on Monday morning. “I can’t predict the future (and what will happen). 

"I am going to go through the normal review processes, I will give South African Rugby my plan for the future and they will have to determine whether there has been growth in the team and whether we are heading in the right direction.

“But I firmly believe we are heading in the right direction. This team is much better off than a year ago. We are fitter and stronger, we last longer in matches, there have been minimal injuries to players which shows just how hard our medical and conditioning team have worked.

“We lost our captain Warren Whiteley during the year and Eben (Etzebeth) had to stand in ... and other leaders have developed and supported him, like Siya (Kolisi), Elton (Jantjies), Francois (Louw), so the leadership team have grown and learned and in this regard we’re also much better off.”

Asked whether – like many have suggested – he has allowed himself to accept mediocrity in the Bok team, Coetzee said: “There have been no incidents off the field regarding players, and that shows the high standards we have in this team.

“Our training has been among the best, according to the likes of Jean de Villiers, who saw us overseas, and even Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen, who are veterans and play overseas, say only good things about the team and the high standards we adhere to.”

Coetzee will now file a tour report which will be discussed by the SA Rugby Executive Council before they decide on the way ahead. New director of rugby Rassie Erasmus is likely to also have a say on whether Coetzee is retained as national coach or replaced.

IOL Sport

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