Matfield in coaching conundrum
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.