Rassie’s era brings new dawn, says Mat­field

Sunday Times - - Sport | Rugby - By MICHAEL VLIS­MAS

● A se­ries vic­tory over Eng­land is only the be­gin­ning of what Vic­tor Mat­field be­lieves is a Spring­bok squad with enough depth in tal­ent to take it through the next two Rugby World Cups and to­wards be­com­ing a force in world rugby again.

Mat­field — who this week took part in the Vo­da­com Red Golf Tour where he joined fel­low for­mer Spring­bok AJ Ven­ter, other rugby play­ers and com­pe­ti­tion win­ners play­ing golf at Leop­ard Creek and Blair Atholl — said he is as ex­cited about this new era in the Spring­boks as most of the rugby-lov­ing coun­try at the mo­ment.

“I think what Rassie and his as­sis­tant Jacques (Nien­aber) have done with the team in such a short time is un­be­liev­able. I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to the next two years, and then af­ter the World Cup when he’s got more time I think this is go­ing to be­come a great Spring­bok team. When you look at this group of play­ers most of them can play two World Cups. So for the next five to six years we can re­ally es­tab­lish some­thing strong with this group. And don’t for­get that Eben (Etze­beth) and Lood (De Jager) must still come back as well.”

Mat­field said he be­lieves the play­ers are feed­ing off Eras­mus’s con­fi­dence in his own

I think this is go­ing to be­come a great Spring­bok team Vic­tor Mat­field For­mer Bok cap­tain

process. “Rassie be­lieves in him­self. There are a lot of coaches who know the game but don’t re­ally be­lieve in them­selves. He’ll lis­ten to ev­ery­body, but he’ll still do what he thinks is right. You can just see on the field the way the guys are play­ing, if they’re 10 or 20 points be­hind, they just still keep do­ing what they’re do­ing be­cause they be­lieve in what Rassie is do­ing.”

Siya Kolisi’s cap­taincy has also im­pressed Mat­field. “Siya looks very calm as a cap­tain. He’s do­ing the right thing by sur­round­ing him­self with other lead­ers. I could see he used Duane Ver­meulen a lot in the first two tests, and Han­dré Pol­lard. As a cap­tain, if you have a strong group of play­ers around you, you need to use them. John Smit did it. He re­lied on a few of us to be his right-hand men. But I think what his cap­taincy means for the coun­try is even big­ger. It’s un­be­liev­able that rugby can unite peo­ple like that.

“I’ve also been im­pressed with RG Sny­man. I think he’s go­ing to be amaz­ing. And Sibu­siso Nkosi has im­pressed me a lot. I wasn’t sure he was ready for Spring­bok rugby, but he looked very calm and col­lected in both tests. He did a lot of small things right and made good de­ci­sions. And I’m also happy that Pol­lard has shown he’s the No 1 fly­half in South Africa.”

Ven­ter, who played with and was coached by Eras­mus, says it’s the man’s peo­ple skills that have most im­pressed him. “Rassie is a man who can han­dle play­ers. You want a coach that has the in­tel­lect and is a thinker, but who is also a peo­ple’s per­son. Rassie is one of those coaches who can have 23 play­ers happy in a team.”

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