It's definitely a strategy that worked in the past
Rassie Erasmus says Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is tweaking his game plan ahead of next weekend’s Rugby Championship clash with the Wallabies in Pretoria.
SARU’s High Performance Manager admitted that the Springboks’ much-maligned kick-and-chase approach has been gradually losing its efficiency in recent seasons.
He was quick to add, however, that the Boks should not veer from their conservative game plan but rather make minor changes to add more strings to their bow.
"It's definitely a strategy that worked in the past but I agree that we have to make some adjustments. In the past it was New Zealand's weakness with players like [Sitiveni] Sivivatu and [Joe] Rokocoko," said Erasmus during a questions-and-answers session on the team's official website.
"You always knew they couldn’t really handle the kicking game. Over the last couple of years, however, they’ve played fullbacks at wing like [Cory] Jane and [Israel] Dagg. I can assure you Heyneke is well aware of this and is busy hatching some plans.”
Erasmus said South Africa are on the right path but would have to take a hard look at their player management, which he considers a major cause for concern at this stage.
“I think we will have to put a structure in place to prevent that players are burned out by Super Rugby Final time. That’s where New Zealand currently have the edge over us, with the management of their players rather than their coaching.
“I think our biggest challenge is the fact that we don’t have central contracts like New Zealand. Our franchises own the primary contract with the players and therefore control the amount of game time.
“Obviously we sometimes request that a player must be better managed, but one do have to understand that the franchise coaches are also under immense pressure to perform. Not an ideal situation but one of my first challenges I want to get right.”
Erasmus also clarified his role in the national set-up and denied that they were considering to recall veteran lock Bakkies Botha.
“Sometimes the media can make a rumour reality, I can assure you there was no plan to bring back Bakkies. The challenge always for a new coach is to balance winning with rebuilding.
“I guess that’s where my new role comes in to create some continuity when the one coach leaves and the next coach takes over. It should not always be a new beginning if all the correct structures are in place.”
Explaining why he is no longer involved in a coaching capacity, Erasmus said: “The plan was always for me just to help and be hands-on with the coaching until after the series against England.
“The main reason for this was the fact that the Bulls’ coaches [Johann van Graan, Ricardo Loubscher, John McFarland and Basil Carzis] were still involved in Super Rugby and Heyneke needed some hands on deck. They [are] all now just involved with [the] Springboks so I am back at the office running the HP Department.”