Ed­die to help out for free

Hands-on WP boss Smal ropes in ‘Fleckie’ for Storm­ers pre-sea­son train­ing

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - JOHN GO­LIATH

ED­DIE JONES is com­ing back to Cape Town. No, he hasn’t changed his mind about coach­ing the Storm­ers, but he will be as­sist­ing the team for a cou­ple of weeks next month to help with their pre- sea­son prepa­ra­tions ahead of next year’s ex­panded Su­per Rugby com­pe­ti­tion.

Jones was yes­ter­day un­veiled as Eng­land’s new na­tional coach af­ter his stint at the Storm­ers lasted just two weeks. The former Aus­tralia and Ja­pan coach left Cape Town on Wed­nes­day to con­clude his deal with the Rugby Foot­ball Union, who had to pay the Storm­ers com­pen­sa­tion for pry­ing him away from the Mother City.

Jones will make a brief ap­pear­ance in the city next month to cush­ion the blow of his sud­den de­par­ture. And this may come as a bit of a sur­prise to some peo­ple, but he will do it for free.

“Ed­die will come in early De­cem­ber. We will then sit down and dis­cuss the pre-sea­son phase from Jan­uary. He won’t be there then (in Jan­uary), but it’s for the plan­ning un­til the Bulls game,” Western Prov­ince di­rec­tor of rugby Gert Smal told a press con­fer­ence at New­lands yes­ter­day.

“Ed­die is not go­ing to be paid for any­thing. It was some­thing that came from his side, and he feels bad about it. He re­ally wants to see that we go ahead with what we started.”

Smal, though, also said that Jones’ sud­den de­par­ture is not go­ing to dis­rupt the Storm­ers’ prepa­ra­tion. The foun­da­tion has ap­par­ently al­ready been laid un­til the end of the year.

“A lot of the stuff is al­ready in place, so we are not go­ing to change our ap­proach,” the former WP and Spring­bok loose for­ward said.

“In any case, and I want to go back to Ed­die’s in­ter­view he had right at the be­gin­ning, we want to go back to play­ing a Storm­ers style of rugby. We are not go­ing to change from that kind of ap­proach.

“A lot of the plan­ning has been done un­til De­cem­ber. The coaches are en­er­gised and the play­ers are en­er­gised, I spoke to them this morn­ing.”

But the Storm­ers ob­vi­ously want to se­cure the ser­vices of a new coach as soon as pos­si­ble. The likes of former All Black coach John Mitchell, who ap­par­ently was of­fered the job ear­lier this year, and former Sharks boss John Plumtree were men­tioned on var­i­ous plat­forms dur­ing this past week.

Those two coaches are strong can­di­dates be­cause they ba­si­cally fit the cri­te­ria for the va­cant job. Both have Su­per Rugby coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and both like to play the type of rugby that Smal en­vis­ages for the Storm­ers.

“At the mo­ment we have to see who is avail­able and who is the best for Western Prov­ince and the Storm­ers. I’m go­ing to look at all op­tions and take it from there,” Smal said.

“With for­eign­ers com­ing in, it does give a nice stim­u­la­tion for coaches and the play­ers. The way we want to go is in any case in line with a lot of ap­proaches that you see in world rugby at the mo­ment. If another coach comes in, it will be easy to adapt.

“We have had four ap­proaches from coaches, if not six, who are in­ter­ested. We just have to make the right de­ci­sions to bring in the cor­rect per­son, who un­der­stands our cul­ture and who un­der­stands how we want to play and who un­der­stands the dy­nam­ics of South Africa.”

In the mean­time, Smal will be ac­tively in­volved with the team, while back­line coach Rob­bie Fleck, who helped WP’s Un­der-21s to the do­mes­tic ti­tle this year, will be given more re­spon­si­bil­ity. But Smal also doesn’t want to ne­glect his pri­mary job.

“I have to look at a lot of op­tions,” Smal said. “Firstly, I have to look at the struc­tures in Western Prov­ince, and I want to get that in place prop­erly. I have a lot of work be­hind the scenes and if you tie your­self up with the team, the sys­tem suf­fers.

“At the mo­ment, I’m just go­ing to step in and then take charge of the off-sea­son and the pre-sea­son.

“Fleckie has been ap­pointed as the coach­ing co­or­di­na­tor. He is one the most ex­pe­ri­enced coaches in Su­per Rugby in South Africa at the mo­ment. I’m go­ing to em­power him and give him re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to drive the team ag­gres­sively, to­gether with the other as­sis­tant coaches.”

TRACEY ADAMS

NO IDLE HANDS: WP pres­i­dent Th­elo Wake­field and WP di­rec­tor of rugby Gert Smal are al­ready con­sid­er­ing of­fers for the now va­cant Storm­ers coach­ing job.

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