LET US GIVE A TOOT FOR COACH TOETIE

Coet­zee de­serves credit for changes in the Bok camp

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

When ev­ery­thing went wrong for the Spring­boks last year, coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee was blamed for se­lect­ing the wrong cap­tain in Adriaan Strauss, it was also his fault that his man­age­ment was given to him by Saru but most of all, it was all Coet­zee's fault that the Spring­boks lost eight of the 12 Tests they played in.

Fast for­ward to a year af­ter his first Test at the reins of the Bok team, which was a maiden de­feat to Ire­land on home soil, and Coet­zee has man­aged to guide the team to a win against France.

In­stead of his de­trac­tors and naysay­ers ap­plaud­ing “Toetie” for the brave se­lec­tions and style of play the Boks em­ployed in beat­ing France at Lof­tus Vers­feld, it was the play­ers that in­stead got the recog­ni­tion.

I agree that the play­ers should take a lot of credit for what we saw on the field in Pre­to­ria but who was the man pulling the strings in the back­ground? It was Al­lis­ter Coet­zee. This is not about be­ing Coet­zee’s praise singer but giv­ing credit where it is due.

It was Toetie who metic­u­lously put to­gether the train­ing camps dur­ing the course of the Su­per Rugby sea­son, it was Toetie who in­sisted on de­fence guru Brendan Ven­ter join­ing his man­age­ment team, it was Toetie who chose War­ren White­ley as his cap­tain and the many new faces we saw do their thing at Lof­tus.

And it was Toetie who gave the play­ers free reign to map out this new team cul­ture that they wax lyri­cally about from that week they spent in Plet­ten­berg Bay.

Even with the prover­bial axe con­stantly hang­ing over his head and talks of this be­ing a do-or-die se­ries for him, Toetie has pre­sented a brave face and fronted to all of his crit­ics and suc­cess­fully mas­ter­minded the win in the first Test.

In the af­ter­math of the Lof­tus vic­tory it was Toetie again who ac­knowl­edged that the team’s per­for­mance was far from be­ing per­fect but it was a step in the right di­rec­tion.

I also ac­knowl­edge that Satur­day’s win shouldn’t be the only barom­e­ter to Coet­zee’s tu­mul­tuous ten­ure as Bok coach and that the dis­as­ter of 2016 will be part of his legacy long af­ter he has left the job.

Surely Coet­zee learnt some harsh but valu­able lessons from last year and un­like most of his pre­de­ces­sors, it doesn’t look like he will be re­peat­ing any of those this year.

If we are all hon­est, Coet­zee was never re­ally given a fight­ing chance to sur­vive let alone be suc­cess­ful in his job last year.

Give the man a chance, let him show us and the rest of the rugby world what it is that he can do with­out bring­ing up his past and blam­ing him for the bad de­ci­sions that Saru made on his be­half last year.

On Satur­day I saw the Boks take the step in the right di­rec­tion and I saw in them the re­silience and fight­ing spirit that Coet­zee has shown in his short but tur­moil filled time in the hot seat.

When things went wrong Toetie might have been to blame and now that things are go­ing right for the Boks, let us give credit where it is due.

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