When Jacques Nienaber was unveiled as the brand new Springbok head coach earlier this yr, changing Rassie Erasmus, it was an announcement that did not take anybody unexpectedly.
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Nienaber has been Erasmus’ right-hand man for nicely over a decade, courting again to their time collectively on the Free State Cheetahs in 2004.
Since then, Nienaber and Erasmus have labored collectively on the Stormers, within the SA Rugby high-performance constructions, at Munster in Eire and, extra just lately, they took the Springboks from the bottom of lows to World Cup winners in 18 months.
Erasmus has been hailed because the saviour of South African rugby and as he now steps into his function as Director of Rugby on a full-time foundation, handing the Springbok reins over to Nienaber was a smart improvement that may breed consistency.
The problem, although, is that the Springbok administration crew heading into 2020 already seems very completely different from the one which triumphed in Japan.
It wasn’t lengthy after the event ended that forwards coach Matt Proudfoot accepted a extremely profitable supply to be part of Eddie Jones and England whereas, on Tuesday this week, it was confirmed that conditioning specialist Aled Walters was additionally on his approach out.
It implies that the 2020 Springboks could have new occupants of three key teaching positions and, all of the sudden, that desired consistency seems to be a bit out of attain.
Proudfoot was the likeliest to depart and Erasmus knew of the supply from England as quickly because it got here. After a gathering with the previous Stormers man, Erasmus advised Proudfoot that he understood the choice and wished him nicely.
Dropping Walters, although, got here as a shock.
The small print surrounding the event are but to emerge, however it seems as if Walters will likely be signing shortly with a European membership whereas the monetary uncertainty that has accompanied the worldwide coronavirus disaster additionally appears to have performed a major function.
All of it contributes in the direction of South African rugby’s current state of limbo.
Due to the coronavirus and the nationwide lockdown, there isn’t a readability on precisely when – or if – skilled rugby will return in 2020.
It leaves any home tournaments SA Rugby had deliberate unsure whereas the July Checks towards Scotland and Georgia, this yr’s Rugby Championship and the top of yr tour all run the danger of being canned.
SA Rugby is clearly determined to get again on the park as quickly as doable – the monetary implications of not enjoying are extreme – however at this stage it’s out of their palms.
Once they do meet in camp, on the coaching subject or slip again into the inexperienced and gold, how lengthy could have handed since their World Cup triumph? Will any momentum from what they achieved in 2019 nonetheless be at play?
Erasmus is turning into more and more essential to the following part. He was at all times going to be, however now that the Boks have misplaced a few acquainted faces, he might need to be much more hands-on than what he had deliberate to be within the first few months of the Nienaber regime.
If you happen to communicate to the gamers who labored beneath Walters since he joined the fray in 2018, they’ll all let you know of how intricate and particular to the person wants of the participant his conditioning programme was.
Having been part of Erasmus and Nienaber’s backroom crew at Munster, Walters got here extremely extremely rated. They’d seen his work first-hand and knew the advantages of getting him concerned within the World Cup marketing campaign.
Walters knew precisely the kind of participant that Erasmus was seeking to domesticate to suit his recreation fashion and his distinctive method to health had the buy-in from the Boks themselves.
Fashionable with the gamers and meticulous with all he did, Walters turned the Springboks into one of many fittest groups in Japan and he was thought-about key to South Africa’s profitable marketing campaign. His departure hurts.
Deon Davids has been appointed as the brand new Springbok forwards coach, changing Proudfoot, whereas Daan Human will help in that division.
The brand new conditioning coach, in the meantime, will likely be introduced within the coming weeks.
Nienaber was appointed for continuity’s sake however, after a more in-depth look, it appears that evidently in some ways the Springboks will likely be beginning over.