South Africa

Smal: No quick-fix for Stormers

Mon, 31 Mar 2014 21:22
Thelo-wakefield-_-gert-smal
It is our desire to become a high-performance organisation
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Gert Smal may be seen as the saviour, but he does not have a magic wand that will solve all Cape Town's problems.

The vastly-experienced Smal will join Western Province as the new Director of Rugby with effect from Tuesday, April 1.

Smal, a former two-times Currie Cup-winning coach with Western Province, will return to the Cape after some time away - having served as the Springbok assistant coach between 2004 and 2007 and holding down the same role with the Ireland national team from 2008 to 2013.

However, both Western Province Rugby Union President Thelo Wakefield and Smal made it clear his arrival will not suddenly turn the Stormers into a world-beating unit.

Those expecting Smal to take over the coaching reins from Allister Coetzee this week and deliver a beating of the Waratahs at Newlands on Saturday will also be bitterly disappointed.

Coetzee's position as senior professional coach is not in immediate danger either.

Wakefield, addressing a media briefing at Newlands on Monday, when one of the worst kept secrets in recent times were confirmed, said Smal's appointed is part of a long-term strategy that will eventually return silverware to the union's empty shelves.

"In January WP Rugby [Pty Ltd] decided to embark on a strategic planning project, with the aim of working towards becoming a high performance organisation," Wakefield said.

"I saw it fit to bring in an outside facilitator and all stakeholders have been consulted."

He said the completion of this "high performance strategic plan" will be round about June.

"The reintroduction of the position of Director of Rugby is part of this strategic plan.

"However, it must be made very clear the appointment of the Director of Rugby is not a quick-fix solution to the current circumstances [in which the Stormers find themselves]," he said of a team that has just one win out of six matches.

"It is aimed that it would [eventually] turn around the fortunes of the Stormers."

He made it clear Smal will address "all aspects" of the game in WP, from junior to senior levels.

"From philosophy and culture, to a blueprint for WP rugby," Wakefield said, adding: "This will obviously take time, and will require an in depth assessment of all facets of the game in WP in our drive to become a high-performance organisation.

"We are very much aware of the fact that this is a process and not an event.

"We don't see the new Director of Rugby as a magician.

"It is our belief that he will turn the game around in WP by making a thorough study of what we have from junior to senior levels.

"His role is not a hands-on coaching one, but a position that will encompass the strategic rugby role from the junior teams straight through to the senior professional outfits."

Wakefield, asked about the timing of the appointment - coming at the end of a disastrous and winless Australasian tour - suggested that the world is ruled by perceptions.

He added that the appointment is a direct result of the discussions that started in January.

"It is my wish to turn this organisation into a high performance organisation, on and off the field," the WPRU boss sad.

"If we expect the players to deliver a high performance game, we need to deliver a high performance in the boardroom as well.

"I have decided to surround Western Province with quality people," he said, adding that they have started with the restructuring of the administration.

While he described Smal the "immediate assistance" the Stormers need, he said there won't be any knee-jerk reactions and an axing of coaching staff.

Smal also called for patience, suggesting that he first needs to assess the situation and see where the needs are.

"I had a brief meeting with the coaches," Smal told the media briefing, adding: "I don't want to make quick decisions.

"I have to sit down with them, discuss issues, see what they struggle with in all aspects of the game - then I will make a decision if they need some help."

Wakefield re-iterated that the position of Alister Coetzee will remain as is.

"He will remain as the senior professional coach and will report to Gert Smal," the President said, adding that one of the functions of the new Director of Rugby is to make assessments of where we they at the moment.

"It will be part of his job to evaluate them [all the coaches] and make recommendations to the board.

"It is still early days and we want him to have a good look at his subordinates and them make recommendations.

"Let's give them a fair chance and the Director a fair chance."

By Jan de Koning

* Don't miss the rest of our articles in which Smal speaks about his relationship with Allister Coetzee, his playing philosophy, his view about his new position and Wakefield's view on the future of WP and the Stormers.

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