Coetzee leads pack for Boks coach

Sunday World - - World Of Sport - CRAIG RAY AFP

THE omens aren t good for the next Spring­bok coach, so hope­fully he is not a su­per­sti­tious man. SA Rugby will un­veil their pre­ferred can­di­date this Fri­day April 1 a date tra­di­tion­ally as­so­ci­ated with pranks and hoaxes. But this is not a joke.

To com­pound mat­ters for su­per­sti­tious types, the can­di­date will be­come the 13th post-iso­la­tion ap­point­ment since the Spring­boks read­mis­sion to Test rugby in 1992. Hope­fully there are no lad­ders to walk un­der or black cats cross­ing his path on his way to his first press con­fer­ence in Jo­han­nes­burg next Satur­day morn­ing.

Sun­day World un­der­stands that for­mer Storm­ers boss Al­lis­ter Coetzee will be named as coach for one of the tough­est jobs in world sport on Fri­day. Coetzee is coach of Ja­panese club team Kobe Ko­belco Steel­ers, but will be freed from those obli­ga­tions im­me­di­ately.

If omens are be­ing sought, there are some good ones for Coetzee as well. In 2004, when ap­pointed Bok as­sis­tant coach to Jake White, the lat­ter was ap­pointed on Fri­day Fe­bru­ary 13, not a date usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with good luck. But un­der White that changed.

The Boks first as­sign­ment in 2004 was against a strong Ire­land, just as it is this year, and SA won the se­ries 2-0. Three-and-half years later they were crowned world cham­pi­ons in Paris.

The 2004 Ire­land se­ries also marked an over­haul in Bok rugby with a new coach­ing staff and a new cap­tain in John Smit. Coetzee will face sim­i­lar chal­lenges al­though his time frame to pre­pare for the Ir­ish is lim­ited.

Coetzee, 52, will suc­ceed Heyneke Meyer and also be­come the sec­ond black Spring­bok coach af­ter Peter de Vil­liers held the po­si­tion be­tween 2008-2011.

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Usu­ally by this time of the year, when a new Bok coach has been ap­pointed, he s al­ready been in the job for a cou­ple of months at least. The last Bok coach to be ap­pointed so late was Ru­dolf Streauli, who also started work on April 1 (is that an­other bad omen?).

Coetzee has lost a cou­ple of months be­cause of the slow grind­ing of SA Rugby s bu­reau­cratic ma­chine.

The ap­point­ment of the Spring­bok coach has to go through many stages, the last of which is the ap­proval of the general coun­cil. This body is made up of the 14 union pres­i­dents as well as the SA Rugby pres­i­dent Ore­gan Hoskins. The general coun­cil ap­proves the ap­point­ment af­ter the can­di­date or can­di­dates have been short­listed by the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee. It s usu­ally a rub­ber­stamp­ing process and lit­tle more, but in the strange world of SA Rugby, noth­ing can be ruled out.

Meyer de­cided against reap­ply­ing for his job in De­cem­ber once he re­alised he had lost sup­port within SA Rugby s cor­ri­dors. Try­ing to stay on was fu­tile, but his late de­ci­sion had a knock-on ef­fect on the tim­ing for his suc­ces­sor. SA Rugby s tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee had not had any time to scout pos­si­ble re­place­ments be­fore the last general coun­cil meet­ing in early De­cem­ber. It meets quar­terly and the next meet­ing is this Fri­day.

SA Rugby s broad cri­te­ria for the new coach were straight­for­ward no for­eigner, a man who has shown com­mit­ment to trans­for­ma­tion, has en­joyed suc­cess at a high level and would be a pos­i­tive face of the Spring­bok brand.

Once those bound­aries had been set, the­o­ret­i­cally Coetzee was eas­ily the best man for the job. Now he will have to prove it in re­al­ity. TIGER Woods s long-term in­juries may have been self-in­flicted but he will win again al­though prob­a­bly not a ma­jor.

I don t doubt that he ll come back to the win­ner s cir­cle,” his for­mer cad­die Steve Wil­liams said in an in­ter­view broad­cast by the BBC.

But whether he comes back and wins more ma­jor cham­pi­onships? That s go­ing to be a very dif­fi­cult task,” added the New Zealan­der.

Wil­liams was Woods s right-hand man be­tween 1999 and 2009, car­ry­ing his bag for 13 of the Amer­i­can s 14 ma­jor vic­to­ries and an as­ton­ish­ing 84 tour­na­ment wins in all. He has an in­cred­i­ble work ethic, when he can work hard, so I wouldn t go as far as say­ing he won t get back into the win­ner s cir­cle be­cause one thing he does know how to do is win,” Wil­liams said.

The for­mer world num­ber one has plum­meted to 467th in the rank­ings hav­ing not picked up a club com­pet­i­tively af­ter un­der­go­ing two back op­er­a­tions in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber.

Wil­liams agreed that Woods s spate of in­juries was self-in­flicted by an in­ten­sive train­ing and strength­en­ing regime in his younger days. It s very hard to pin­point how he s got to where he is now

When he looks back he might ques­tion some of the ac­tiv­i­ties he did, some of the gym work he might have done that had all these in­juries es­ca­late.” Wil­liams now works part­time for Adam Scott and will carry for the Aus­tralian when the sea­son s first ma­jor, the US Masters, be­gins at Augusta in just over two weeks.

He also worked for other for­mer ma­jor win­ners in Greg Nor­man and Ray Floyd, but says Woods is unique in his un­be­liev­able de­sire to win

Now other guys would be happy if they had a top-five fin­ish, a top-10 fin­ish, some weeks even if they made the cut but the only time [Woods] en­joyed was when he won. The rest of it didn t mat­ter. Un­less you won it wasn t a sat­is­fac­tory week.”

Wil­liams and Woods do not speak since they parted com­pany in 2009, de­spite the pair be­ing once so close that they were best man at each other s wed­dings. And Wil­liams caused a furore when writ­ing in his book last year that his for­mer boss treated him like a slave But he still re­calls with pride their hey­day be­tween 1999 and 2005, when Woods won nine of his ma­jor ti­tles.

He had this amaz­ing drive to break Jack Nick­laus s record [of 18 ma­jor wins], which of course I bought into,” said Wil­liams. I saw no rea­son to be­lieve he wasn t go­ing to do that. It s just a shame that it looks very dif­fi­cult at this time that he s go­ing to achieve that. I m not say­ing it s go­ing to be im­pos­si­ble but it looks harder and harder.”

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