Coetzee comes out swinging
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Under-fire Springbok coach Allister Coetzee is standing firm that he will NOT resign.
Coetzee, in the face of some savage criticism over South Africa's disastrous year, he played down reports that Saturday's Test against Wales in Cardiff will be his last as Springboks coach.
The outcry and calls for Coetzee's head follow in the wake of their historic and embarrassing 18-20 defeat to Italy in Florence last weekend.
It was the Boks' seventh loss in 11 Tests in 2016 and the first to the Azzurri.
Despite South African Rugby Union President Mark Alexander saying they will undertake a 'full review' at the end of the year, Coetzee was stubbornly adamant that he is in it for the long haul.
"We have a Test against Wales on Saturday and then we will review the season and spend time determining a path for the future," Alexander said.
While the SARU boss' carefully worded statement did not directly say anything about Coetzee's future, we have enough examples of coaches being fired (or faxed, as Ian McIntosh was in the wake of the 1994 tour of New Zealand) despite claims to the contrary.
However, Coetzee sees it very differently.
"I have signed a four-year contract and I'll do my best to make sure we perform this weekend," he told reporters i Cardiff.
"Whatever happens, happens but I've got a four-year deal.
"I can promise you this weekend is going to be a physical battle decided by small margins.
"We need to focus on our processes and the result will come from that.
"A few basic things can cost you the game so the focus this week is on simplicity and I want to have enthusiasm out there.
"Simplicity means the result at all costs."
Coetzee also made it clear that he will dump his 'continuity' approach this week.
"I'll be making changes to the team to bring that enthusiasm and energy and hopefully we can get a result," he said.
"The philosophy behind my selection for the Italy game was that I wanted to get some continuity going from the England match and then hopefully that would help us really be ready for the Wales game.
"But we did not get the result we wanted so I have to rethink that.
"I have to give opportunities now to other players. There are other young players who have worked really hard in training on this tour but haven't played as yet. They deserve a chance and I am going to try and get them that opportunity against Wales.
"I want to use that match to look at the future so we know where we are next year."
With Wales also under huge pressure to end their year-ed campaign with a victory, Coetzee can understand why both countries are under the Test cosh in Cardiff.
"Criticism [of South African and Welsh teams] is the nature of the beast in international rugby," he said.
"Wales are fortunately winning and we are on a losing run.
"South Africa and Wales are two very passionate rugby countries and nationals coaches have a massive responsibility on their shoulders.
"When Welsh and Springboks put on that jersey you've got to go out there and perform.
"I don't know about the Welsh, but I do know they are a quality Test side.
"We are low in confidence and we'll try our best to try and fix the problems.
"We want to end this tour on a good note.
"It is my responsibility to get the team out of that hole.
"It's been a tough year and I can take responsibility for a lot of things. But I only got started in April and there are challenges in South African rugby that are unique to us.
"There's no excuse for the poor performance but there are discussions happening and it is looking really positive.
"This is a great opportunity to address the problems and clean out the wounds."
* Meanwhile it was confirmed that lock Eben Etzebeth will not be fit to face Wales.
The lock suffered a concussion against England at Twickenham just over a fortnight ago and has not recovered quickly enough to be considered for the game against Wales.
Etzebeth will return home on Tuesday, Coetzee confirmed.
"We won't call up a replacement, because we currently have sufficient cover in that position - with Pieter-Steph du Toit, Lodewyk de Jager and Franco Mostert," Coetzee said.
"There are also some utility forwards who can provide extra cover if needed."