Mat­field in coach­ing co­nun­drum

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - LETTERS - Heinz Schenk

Mea­sured soc­cer fans are trau­ma­tised time and again by their clubs go­ing against their bet­ter judg­ment and hir­ing a for­mer dar­ling player to man­age the first team.

Great player, poor coach is in­vari­ably the com­plaint.

In­ter­est­ingly, South African rugby is gen­er­ally spared this phe­nom­e­non.

Yes, cur­rent na­tional coach Rassie Eras­mus was a very ac­com­plished player too, but he’s proven his cre­den­tials over the past 13 years.

How­ever, lo­cal rugby is very much pop­u­lated with un­fash­ion­able men­tors and there is some­times a lament that the coach­ing scene lacks star power.

That ar­gu­ment can be coun­tered by stat­ing that three of the Spring­boks’ most suc­cess­ful coaches – Jake White, Kitch Christie and Peter de Vil­liers – didn’t have no­table play­ing ca­reers.

The news then that a leg­endary Spring­bok lock and World Cup win­ner is on the verge of be­ing ap­pointed the Bulls’ new head coach is a bit of an anom­aly.

At first glance, the thought of Vic­tor Mat­field lead­ing the beloved out­fit he helped de­fine for 15 years as player is an en­tic­ing one.

Mat­field was a ge­nius as a player.

But that hasn’t trans­lated into a fruit­ful coach­ing ca­reer.

As a mat­ter of fact, my sus­pi­cion is that Mat­field is rid­ing on the wave of his stel­lar play­ing ca­reer.

There’s pre­cious lit­tle ev­i­dence that the 41-year-old ac­tu­ally has the nous to take on a coach­ing job of this mag­ni­tude.

His ap­point­ment last year as the Lions’ for­wards coach was pretty dis­as­trous.

Not only did he fail to com­mit him­self on a full-time ba­sis – even if the ini­tial role was only for the du­ra­tion of the Cur­rie Cup – but failed to take ac­count­abil­ity for some shock­ing tac­tics in the semi­fi­nal against Prov­ince.

Now there seems to be the same is­sue ham­per­ing his ap­point­ment at the Bulls.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, Mat­field wants to iron out some de­tails from other em­ploy­ers such as Su­perS­port.

It sug­gests Mat­field still isn’t fully in­vested in his coach­ing ca­reer.

The Bulls can’t af­ford not to have him giv­ing his full at­ten­tion.

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