Cape Town — Springbok coach Allister Coetzee admits he has made mistakes, but not ever on purpose or because he “doesn’t know what is going on.”
Coetzee mounted a firm defence of his selection policy, which has been widely criticised of late, and believes he has given more than enough opportunities to fringe players during the recently completed Northern Hemisphere tour.
The public sentiment may be the opposite, especially with players such as Lukhanyo Am getting three minutes of game time in a four- week tour, and Louis Schreuder nine. But Coetzee is adamant that he is fulfilling every part of his contract in terms of objectives for the 2019 season.
“Hindsight is a perfect science and everytime I do make the selections, I make sure it is for the Springbok team versus the opposition and the plan we have.
Somewhere on this tour I had to give Warrick Gelant an opportunity, and he did that on attack. The try he scored with his blistering pace, with the counter-attack opportunity, that is what he brings to the team. And if not now, when? That was an outside-the-window test. A player like Dan du Preez, when would you be able to give a player like Dan du Preez an opportunity?
“It is great that these players have come through like Wilco Louw, Lukhanyo Am. Unfortunately I would have liked to see more of Lukhanyo Am but the little bit I’ve seen, Louis Schreuder has also shown glimpses. There are positions in this Springbok team that might not be world class now, but players will develop into that World class mode. You can see that last year, when Malcolm Marx got the opportunity, and we brought Steven Kitshoff back. Those are two of the 11 last year regularly, world class players immediately.
“Bongi Mbonambi was excellent this tour and showed our second hooker is with Malcolm, there is good rivalry there,” he said.
Coetzee added that his plan will still ensure the target of 50 percent is reached before the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
“Obviously with all the selections in the world, I’ve got in my contract, I’ve got to make sure that we’ve agreed on a transformation plan that has been agreed and to abide at what has been signed and accepted by the government.
“With all these changes, yes, you will make a mistake or two, but there are reasons why it is made. It is not made because I don’t know what is going on.
“I understand what is going on and I understand the bigger picture, if you look at two years down the line and you have to go to the World Cup and have 50 percent representation.
“Where do you think I can go buy that, I can’t go buy that, I need to give the players opportunity to feel comfortable at international level and to compete and that is where we are. We can’t make as if this doesn’t exist. There have been agreements and this is what I am adhering to and that is stipulated in my contract.”
Coetzee will face a review after the past tour, and on his performance record over the two years in charge in the next week at the SA Rugby headquarters. — News24