Allister Coetzee will continue to change South Africa’s style with increasing opportunities for youth and Sevens players.
The Springboks play six Tests in The Rugby Championship before heading for a European tour that opens against the Barbarians in the Killik Cup match at Wembley on November 5.
Coetzee’s tenure as head coach began with a 2-1 series win over Ireland last month and his long-term vision is to add to more weapons to the physical forward-based armoury traditionally associated with his team.
He tells us he wants his nine and ten pairing of Elton Jantjies and Faf de Klerk to gain more Test experience with wildcards like Cheslin Kolbe and Seabelo Senatla in contention for European action later in the year.
Jantjies and de Klerk have been the architects of the Lions’ run to the semi-finals of Super Rugby but the potential inclusion of Senatla is a real eye-opener.
“We’ve been renowned for playing in certain ways and you can win games in lots of different ways,” said Coetzee.
“Lots of other international sides understand that they have to match South Africa’s physicality and we’ve got to a bit smarter and more accurate now. I believe in a balanced style of play. There are different kinds of pressure you can apply to the opposition and that can be with ball in hand, at the set piece, with your contact skills.
“People enjoy watching us score tries and we understand that we have got to widen our game. South Africa maybe used to be a bit narrow at times and the Lions and the Stormers have shown what can be done and the opportunities that are there if you attack with width and put more effort into playing on the edges.
“You can only do that with the right personnel and it won’t happen in year one or year two but we want to make it happen. We don’t want to go all-out attack and neglect our forward style, our dominance at set piece and the maul, but we want to be more effective.”
After the Rio Olympics, Coetzee is keen – in contrast to other top tier nations – to reassess the progress of Sevens players, particularly Senatla, Kolbe, centre Juan de Jongh and experienced scrum-half Francois Hougaard.
No one has scored more tries in a World Sevens Series season in its current format than Senatla, who touched down 66 times in 55 games and has the potential to become a global star in Rio.
“It’s difficult to name names exactly,” Coetzee said. “There are players like Elton Jantjes and Faf de Klerk who’ve come in and started to play a part and I hope they’ll add some more caps over the coming months and we’ll have more experience.
“There are also players coming in and we’re also looking at the national sevens side who are going to the Olympics.
“Seabelo Senatla has had a good year and was promising at Western Province and went on to play one Super Rugby game. We’d like to look at him, then there’s Cheslin Kolbe and Juan de Jongh and Francois Hougaard who did so well at Worcester last season.”
Senatla might even feature in the November tour opener against the Barbarians, the unique invitation side who will pose their own unique challenge at Wembley.
The Barbarians have beaten South Africa in their last two meetings: 22-5 against the World Cup winners in 2007 and 26-20 in 2010.
“Playing the Barbarians is a great opportunity and and exciting one and it brings a different kind of pressure,” said Coetzee, who will pit his coaching skills against those of his friend Robbie Deans. “It’s very important for us to get the end of year tour off to a good start.
“It’s never an easy game. Your defensive systems will be tested in the backfield and the Barbarians will go for all-out attack. We’ve got some work to do as the Barbarians have done very well of late against the Springboks.
“Robbie is a very clever coach. I was fortunate enough to coach against him in Japan when he was at Panasonic and he beat us in the semi-final of the Top League. He’s a good selector and he’ll get a good side together.
“Barbarians rugby is still an unbelievable concept. It’s important it’s maintained. I’ve chatted with most of our players this year and it’s still a huge draw for them. One day they’d all like to represent the Barbarians.”
Tickets to the Killik Cup match between the Barbarians and South Africa at Wembley Stadium on November 5 are available from Ticketmaster.co.uk