Coetzee mindful of Bok balancing act
WP coach Allister Coetzee knows he faces a selection conundrum when the Springboks return after the weekend’s Rugby Championship decider.
Western Province coach Allister Coetzee knows he faces a selection conundrum when the Springboks return to the fray after the weekend’s Rugby Championship decider.
Coetzee and his rival Currie Cup coaches are set to welcome back their Springbok stars following Saturday’s Test against the All Blacks at Ellis Park.
The return of the country’s cream of the crop so close to the Currie Cup semifinals in recent years has had coaches in two minds as to in which capacity to incorporate their stars in order to retain synergy and momentum.
Coetzee insisted that their full focus is on the weekend’s clash against the Golden Lions at Newlands, but he admitted that he’s going to have to make some difficult decisions in the coming weeks.
“You must always pick the best players, but we’ll assess their [the returning Springboks’] fitness levels and I’ll look at each player’s motivation first,” Coetzee said on Monday.
“Two years ago when the players returned from the World Cup, some Boks had a different level of motivation compared to the guys who had played the whole Currie Cup season.
“They’re also not aware of where the other teams are at because those teams were at a different place to where they were when those players were part of the squad. It’s important that everyone’s on the same wave length and grasp how important the semifinal and Final is.
“This year the players have shown a real interest in keeping in touch and up to date, so that shows me that they’ll definitely want to be part of the Currie Cup.”
In the Springboks’ absence, Coetzee has blooded a number of promising youngsters and the Western Province mentor said he’s pleased with the squad’s development thus far.
“In terms of the Currie Cup, I’m very happy with the progress we’ve made…that first-timers like Cheslin Kolbe, Michael Willemse, Michael van der Spuy and Tazz Fuzani have come through and players in their second or third seasons like Scarra Ntubeni and Damian de Allende have been dominating.
“That shows me there’s progress in the development and as long as they’re growing and improving, it bodes well for the future.”
Coetzee said this stage of the competition calls for teams to lift their game to new heights and that with a home semifinal in their grasp, accuracy will be key.
“You have to put performances close to Super Rugby level together because that’s what’s required in the next couple of weeks as teams get their international players back.
“We’re playing for a home semifinal this weekend, so it’s important that we get it right and play with more accuracy and not just in spurts.”
Coetzee felt they let a valuable away win slip when the teams played to a 31-all draw in their previous encounter in August and said they’re determined to get the better of the free-running Johannesburg side this time around.
“The Lions have a helluva attacking mindset. You have to look after your ball because if you don’t respect your ball, you won’t see it for quite some time.
“We had an opportunity earlier this season to come away from Ellis Park with maximum points. Unfortunately we didn’t but we’re back at Newlands this weekend.”
Coetzee added that although they are determined to retain their title, their focus in on the task at hand.
“We want to prove that we can do it again. We always knew it was going to be more difficult as defending champions but it’s still a long way to go. All our focus is squarely on the Lions.”