CAPE TOWN – It was expected, but now it’s official: Gert Smal is leaving Western Province for Japan.
The current director of rugby at Newlands will be heading for the Far East later this year to be the assistant coach to his former Springbok colleague Jake White at Japan Top League outfit Toyota Verblitz.
The club announced on Monday that Smal – who was White’s assistant coach when the Boks won the 2007 World Cup – will be joined by another South African, Bok fullback Willie le Roux, at Verblitz.
Le Roux will be bidding farewell to English side Wasps at the end of the Premiership season, and join Verblitz after the Rugby World Cup, which ends on November 2.
Apart from White making them feel at home, Smal and Le Roux will be welcomed by other South Africans in Gio Aplon, Lionel Cronjé, Reniel Hugo and Clinton Swart.
Very special honor to lead the Boys @toyotaverblitz to our First Top League Cup Trophy,unbelievable effort 💪 #blessed #soproud 🙏 @JasonJenko @l10nelcronje @WegnerCarl @RenielHugo #clintonswart #janneskirsten #saffasinjapan #arigato @JWhiterugby pic.twitter.com/dwj6HtG24K— Gio Aplon (@1GioAplon) January 19, 2019
Smal’s departure from WP Rugby was believed to be from July 1, but recent media reports indicate it could be even earlier than that, as new president Zelt Marais begins the much-needed clean-out at Newlands in the hope of making the Stormers title contenders again.
Head coach Robbie Fleck won’t have his contract renewed at the end of the current Super Rugby campaign, with WP Currie Cup coach John Dobson set to take over at the Stormers.
Dobson is already one of the assistant coaches at the franchise, and will look to bring in a fresh approach at the Stormers following years of under-achievement and a predictable style of play.
Smal, who is also a former Ireland forwards coach, began his tenure as director of rugby on April 1, 2014, during which WP reached four Currie Cup finals and won two, and the Stormers’ highest finish being two Super Rugby quarter-finals.@ashfakmohamed