I don’t have a Jaque Fourie
Western Province coach Allister Coetzee is desperate to unearth a world-class outside centre in the mould of former Western Province and Springbok No.13 Jaque Fourie.
The Cape Town union have lost several stalwarts to overseas clubs following the Stormers’ Super Rugby campaign and although Coetzee is generally pleased with the depth of his talent pool, he cited the outside centre position as an area of concern.
Coetzee noted that in captain and Springbok skipper Jean de Villiers and fellow international Juan de Jongh, he has two “great 12s that can play 13” and said that they fell under the overflowing riches the squad possess at inside centre.
Coetzee said that while they have adequate depth at No.12 with the likes of the Springbok duo, Damian de Allende and a slew of promising up-and-coming players coming through, the cupboard is relatively bare at outside centre.
Coetzee said he is considering playing Ireland-bound wing Gerhard van den Heever at No.13 in the upcoming Currie Cup campaign.
“A player like Gerhard van den Heever might not be a bad option. We’re thinking about that and trying to get Gerhard up to speed,” Coetzee said in Cape Town on Wednesday.
“We have a few options. We’ve trained with Pat Howard and Mark Hodgkiss of Maties there. We have Justin Geduld but he’s with the [South African] Sevens and we’ve got Berton Klaasen, although he’s predominantly a 12.
“We have a lot of good 12s but I don’t have a Jaque Fourie. That’s what we’re looking at, finding that player and developing that player because it’s expensive to get world-class 13s.”
Coetzee acknowledged that regular fullback Jaco Taute, who made his Springbok debut at outside centre in the 31-8 win over the Wallabies in Pretoria last year, was a possible long-term option but said he had not discussed a possible move with the 22-year-old.
“Jaco [Taute] has helped out there but I don’t know if that’s his preferred position. Someone must want to play in a certain position, so I’m not too sure if he’d want to play there [long term],” said Coetzee.
Coetzee said the Stormers’ comprehensive 30-13 win over the Bulls in the final round of the Super Rugby regular season was indicative of the depth of the squad.
“We played the Bulls without Joe Pietersen, Andries Bekker, Tiaan Liebenberg, Dewaldt Duvenage and Peter Grant, so I have confidence in the other players as they have shown they can play at a high level,” he said.
“I’m pleased with the development of our depth and players coming through and I’d like to see further development in the Currie Cup.”
Coetzee added that while they would look at possibly acquiring the services of Super Rugby calibre players from either the Southern Kings or the Lions - depending on which team fail to qualify for Super Rugby - the emphasis will be on developing local talent.
“Of course we're keeping an eye on the [promotion-relegation] play-offs, because the players of the team that fails to make the grade will be keen to play Super Rugby next season,” he said.
“It’s important that you look within first. Only if you don’t have players who are ready to play at Super Rugby level do you look outside the boundaries. That’s why the Currie Cup is so important, to make sure the local players get the exposure and opportunity to develop.
“You have to reward players who have done well at Varsity Cup level and Ryan Nel in particular has been solid for Maties. He’s been in our structures for a long time as well at Under-21 level.”
Coetzee said he would wait until after Saturday’s decisive match at Ellis Park to discuss the uncertainty surrounding the future of Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies.
“I would like to wait for the promotion-relegation games to finish before I talk about Elton. With what broke with Alan Solomons yesterday, it’s not ideal.
“They have a tough game to play and there’s a lot at stake and one has to respect that. Elton’s deal was a loan agreement and he’s back with the Lions and that’s where he is at, at this point in time.”