Exclusive: ‘Change in game-plan a priority for new Bok coach’

Date published: March 31 2016

One of the new Springbok coach's most important tasks will be to introduce a new game-plan which will keep opponents guessing.

That was the word from former Springbok captain and flanker Theuns Stofberg, who said the Springboks and most of South Africa's Super Rugby sides' predictability on attack is one of the main reasons why they battle to beat their New Zealand counterparts.

Stofberg, who represented the Springboks in 21 Tests, of which four was as captain, from 1976 to 1984 wants the new Bok coach to bring out the flair in his players.

"The game-plan which the Springboks used in recent years was easy to defend against," he told Planet Rugby in an exclusive interview.

"Defensive systems have become so advanced in the professional era and it's very difficult to beat a side with a solid defence.

"Unfortunately the Springboks, and most of the other South African Super Rugby sides, kick away too much possession and that works in our opponents' favour.

"We need a game-plan which will keep our opponents on their toes.

"The players' creativity has also been stifled and I've seen on several occasions how our top players are too afraid to take risks, especially in big matches."

The South African Rugby Union confirmed on Thursday that they would announce the identity of the new Springbok coach and his management team on MondayApril 12.

Oregan Hoskins, president of SA Rugby, has said that a preferred candidate had been identified and that the recommendation would now be considered by SARU's General Council.

Former Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has been widely reported as the favourite for the Bok coaching position although SARU's General Manager of High Performance Rassie Erasmus' name has also been mentioned as a potential replacement for Heyneke Meyer.

Hoskins has also said that there is a possibility that a foreign coach couldtake charge of the two-time World Cup winners. 

Stofberg prefers a South African to coach the Boks although he is not entirely against a foreigner taking over.

"To bring in a foreigner is not unnacceptable but I believe that we should only take that route if there aren't capable coaches in South Africa," added the 60-year-old, who is the only player to win the Currie Cup with the three different provinces – the old Northern Transvaal, Orange Free State and Western Province.

"That isn't the case, however, as we have enough South African coaches to do the job."

Stofberg feels South Africa's new head coach has a huge task on his hands as, apart from the Boks' unimaginative style of play, most of the players' skill levels are not up to scratch.

"We have the players in South Africa but the problem is that they don't have the skill-set of the New Zealanders and Australians," he added. 

"I really hope that the new coach places an emphasis on bringing creativity back in to our game and the individual skills of our players shouldn't be coached out of them.

"At Super Rugby level a lot of our sides play as individuals and that is why our sides are struggling. The Lions are the exception because they play as a team and have an exciting style of play.

"It's high risk rugby but they (the Lions) are 15 guys who love the way they play and know what they want to do.

"That is what I want from our national team as well."

By David Skippers

Stofberg recently released a book – 'Stories from the Touchline'. The book is a collection of humorous, touching and uplifting stories about life, rugby and everything else by one of South Africa’s true rugby legends. Stofberg’s illustrious rugby career spanned from 1976 to 1985 – and he is commonly considered one of the all-time Springbok greats. As the 36th captain of the Springboks, one of only 56 players to be given this honour, he was tough and uncompromising on the field but a true gentleman and great raconteur off it, which he proves with the anecdotes collected in this book.