Coetzee casts his captaincy net 'wider'

Wed, 05 Apr 2017 12:53

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Allister Coetzee has not ruled out the possibility of naming an overseas-based player as Springbok captain.

Coetzee, speaking to the media at a three-day Bok training camp in Stellenbosch this week, said he would be casting his captaincy net 'wider than normal'.

Adriaan Strauss, a stop-gap captain last year, has retired from the international game and a new captain will be unveiled the week before the opening Test against France in June.

Coetzee said the real challenge is that all the current franchise captains are 'very young' and inexperienced.

"It is always a challenge because of what [the experience and leadership] we lost after [the] 2015 [World Cup]," Coetzee said.

"There is work to be done, but I believe your captain must choose himself.

"I am looking at our camp in the week leading up to the first Test [against France in Pretoria on June 10] to name my captain."

Asked if he would consider one of the more experienced Boks currently based abroad, Coetzee said: "I am casting my net wider than normal to make sure [we get the right captain].

"Professor Pieter Kruger will be joining me in looking, to make sure it is not just an emotional thing, but make sure the players we have on the radar have all the qualities."

He admitted the captain may be named with a view to taking the team through to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

"He may be a young guy if it is a local captain, especially if you look at the World Cup."

Coetzee said if it is a young captain he will make mistakes.

"If that's the route I take, then we have to make sure it is not just him alone, but that he has many other leaders around him."

Asked what he is looking for in a captain, Coetzee said that is something they are looking at as the process of finding the next skipper continues.

"We must make sure we have the right criteria," he said, adding: "[We must say to ourselves] this is the way we are going to play, this is the right captain for South Africa.

"We are debating that point at the moment."

Coetzee also left the door open for players who were axed from the squad that trained in Stellenbosch this week - players like Francois de Klerk and Nizaam Carr.

"The training camp should not be seen as selected squad - it is not the final squad for the French Test series.

"It is an opportunity to look at other players, like Cobus Reinach.

"I have read a lot [about players being axed]. I need to see what Cobus Reinach brings to the team.

"The door is definitely not closed [for other players]. I am aware of guys who are playing well, like SP [Sarel] Marais and Courtnall Skosan.

"Dylan Leyds, a versatile wing and fullback who understands the aerial contest, is also playing well.

"There will be an opportunity in the third training camp for other guys. It is important to cast the net wider."

Coetzee said he is "excited" about the way the franchises are all trying to keep the ball in hand and play with a bit of width.

"I am also happy to see variation.

"I don't know where they come with this 'running rugby' style.

"Yes, there is great skill development in the way we play. In Test rugby every area is a test. At least we have had enough time to improve and to feel confident about it and have a go on attack.

"Winning is the only style of rugby you should play at Test level -."

He said he won't make the same mistake as last year and rely too much on overseas-based players.

"Last year the overseas-based players only arrived a week ahead of the first Test. It put us under pressure in terms of our preparation and team culture.

"If I don't have a player in a specific position in South Africa and he [the player abroad] is part of the plan looking ahead, then you look at them.

"However, they must be monitored in such a way that they arrive in prime condition and ready for Test rugby."

He said there will be assessments done and he has spoken to a number of those players.

"We are watching the games and assessing if they are on par with the skillsets they should have.

"Our conditioning coach will be in touch with their conditioning coaches. They will have to send tests and when they are in [the Springbok] camp they will have to do those tests."

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