Springbok legend Victor Matfield has named his three front-runners to succeed outgoing head coach Jacques Nienaber after the World Cup.
Nienaber dropped the bombshell last week that he will be leaving the national side and joining Leinster as the replacement for Stuart Lancaster as a senior coach.
Only a South African
The news has paved the way for much speculation around who the next coach of the Bok side will be, and the most capped South African at Test level, Matfield, picked out three coaches and ruled out the possibility of a foreign coach.
“I think we’ve just got too many challenges in South Africa for an overseas guy to understand,” Matfield said.
“Johan Ackerman who was very successful with the Lions, Franco Smith is doing really well all over and then Johann van Graan, who coached at Munster and was assistant coach with the ’Boks for 75 Test matches as well.”
The former second-row commended Leinster for how they have built the club and suggested it sets a benchmark for other teams to strive for. He also indicated how important timing is for the selection of a Test coach.
“What Leinster have done over the last few years is just unbelievable, something everyone wants to copy, but again, timing is so important.
“We dominated everything with Bulls in the run to 2008, and Heyneke Meyer should have got the Springbok job at that point.
“He got it a few years later and it wasn’t the same, he was a just a little out of the game — the timing was wrong, too late.”
URC has no bearing
“I don’t really think so,” said Matfield.
“What Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber have set up here for this World Cup is completely different.
“I don’t think they mind what happens with our local teams; I think it’s a feeding structure where young players come through, they show what they can do.
“Once the Springboks squad come together from Japan from France from the UK, a few South African guys, it’s just a completely different team — a team that believes in what they doing, how they play.
“There is a different environment that you have to create for them to be at the best. I think Rassie and Jacques understand that environment they need to put out there for the players to be at their best.”