Eddie to help out for free
Hands-on WP boss Smal ropes in ‘Fleckie’ for Stormers pre-season training
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.”
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.