Proudfoot on the Japan rumours
CONTRACT SPOTLIGHT: Forwards coach Matt Proudfoot has become the first member of the 2017 Springbok staff to talk publicly about his future.
Amidst the ongoing discussions between head coach Allister Coetzee and the South African Rugby Union - about the former's imminent departure - the assistant coaches have largely flown under the radar.
There has been speculation that backline coach Franco Smith has an ultimatum to move to Cape Town permanently, while speculation linked Proudfoot to a move to Japan.
However, Proudfoot categorically denied that he has any plans to leave the Bok set-up.
He told rugby365 that there has been "no talks with [any team in] Japan".
He made it clear that he is "fully committed" to go to the World Cup in Japan next year as a member of the Bok coaching squad.,
His contract with SARU, which runs to the end of 2019, is not linked to Coetzee in any way.
Even if Coetzee does depart and moves to Japan, as has been widely reported, Proudfoot plans to stay on at SARU headquarters in Plattekloof, Cape Town.
The advantage of Proudfoot staying on is that a substantial number of the current crop of Bok forwards - like Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe and Siyamthanda Kolisi, to name just a few - made their first tentative steps into the professional game under the guidance of the former Scottish prop at the Stormers.
He also has a long-standing relationship with current SARU Director of Rugby Johan Erasmus, when both were involved in the coaching set-up at the Stormers.
Proudfoot is determined to be involved with the Boks at the World Cup next year.
He has extensive experience of the Japanese culture and what can be expected, through his stint at Kobelco Steelers in 2015 and 2016 - before joining up with the Boks midway through 2016.
* Meanwhile it has come to light that the negotiations between Coetzee and SARU have reached a critical point.
Unconfirmed reports are still linking Coetzee to a move to Japan, but his negotiations with SARU over the 'settlement' of the remainder of his contract (which also runs through to the end of next year) hit a number of obstacles in the last few weeks.
Coetzee is apparently running out of time to accept an offer in Japan, but has been holding out for a better deal from SARU.
There is a risk that he may overplay his hand and not only lose out on the Japan deal, but receive a significantly inferior deal from SARU than what has been on the table.
Jan de Koning