Bok bomb: Franco gets 'kicking role'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Franco Smith, one of the most attack-minded coaches in South Africa, will be helping the Springboks with their kicking 'skills'.
This bombshell was dropped on the unsuspecting media at a briefing in Johannesburg on Wednesday by assistant coach Johann van Graan.
Speaking at a Bok training camp, ahead of a four-match, three-Test tour of the Northern Hemisphere next month, Van Graan revealed that the roles in a revamped Bok coaching panel were cleared up through "in-depth discussions" by Bok management meetings this week.
This bolt comes less than a week after it was announced that the Free State Cheetahs head coach, Smith, and Golden Lions defence specialist JP Ferreira had been seconded to the Bok management team.
Kicking specialist Louis Koen has also joined the coaching panel ahead of the year-end tour - which features Tests against England (November 12), Italy (November 19) and Wales (November 26) and opens with a match against the Barbarians at Wembley on November 5.
The trio assembled with the Springbok squad and management in Johannesburg this past Sunday.
However, what makes Van Graan's declaration so surprising is that the initial media release - issued by the South African Rugby Union at their coaches indaba in Cape Town last Thursday - had stated that Smith will be involved in "backline play and skills".
However, Van Graan said Smith's new role was set out at a series of meetings between head coach Allister Coetzee and his assistants this week.
"Coach Allister is the head coach and he makes all the calls," Van Graan said of Coetzee, adding that he creates a "brilliant environment" for the coaching panel.
"We have had some in-depth discussion the last few days about roles," he said, adding: "Franco will mostly handle the kicking game and bring in one or two new ideas, which have the buy-in of the entire team.
"JP [Ferreira] will focus on defence," adding that he has known Ferreira for a long time.
"He is very detail orientated and a very hard-working young coach.
"He has done fantastically with the Lions and it is fantastic to have him around there is a lot of excitement, with one or two new ideas, which we are all enjoying."
Van Graan said the game has changed in recent years and coaches now have "integrated" roles.
"You can't look at just defence, just attack, just kicking and just line-outs - everything works together," the Boks' assistant coach said.
"Coach Allister has set out the roles and the coaches have bought into it. We are three days into the new system."
By Josh Isaacson, in Johannesburg