Assistant coach Matt Proudfoot says Rassie Erasmus is a ‘master tactician’ who is driving the Springboks to be a more dynamic team, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Bloemfontein.
Proudfoot is the sole survivor from last year’s coaching staff under Allister Coetzee, having retained his role as forwards coach after Pieter de Villiers parted ways with SA Rugby.
Prior to Tuesday’s press conference at the Bok team base in Bloemfontein, Proudfoot engaged in some light-hearted banter and conversation with the gathered contingent of media, but he is also all too familiar with the more high-pressure nature of the job when the team is underperforming.
He admitted that concerns over ‘job security’ came with the territory – particularly as the Boks went on to record just 11 wins from 25 games under Coetzee.
‘As a coach, it’s part and parcel of the job, it’s all about how the team performs,’ he said. ‘We are the custodians of a special brand, the Boks have a lot of talent, and so we as coaches need to make sure they perform. When they don’t, we come under pressure. You have to grow and get better, or take a step back. It’s part and parcel of the job to experience that pressure.’
Having experienced the Boks’ transition from one coach to another, Proudfoot is also well-placed to shed some light on the changes in team dynamics that have taken place.
‘The two men [Coetzee and Erasmus] are both dynamic people,’ Proudfoot responded when asked about the differences from one tenure to another. ‘Rassie is a master tactician, who leaves nothing to chance, and so it’s also been a learning experience for me. Allister had a different focus, it was also a good focus, and he’s a very good man.
‘What you want from leaders is leadership, and I think they both had their own special roles of leadership. It’s been great to work with such strong people. I think we need more of our head coaches in the country to be strong people, and really lead the team and organisation. I think Rassie does that exceptionally well and, as well all know, international rugby is tough, so you have to be tough. That’s the difference I’ve picked up.’
The Boks are expected to make at least a couple of team changes for Saturday’s second Test against England in Bloemfontein, with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Frans Malherbe in line for starting roles.
Proudfoot said any changes would be aimed at testing the team and players in different ways.
‘If you understand Rassie’s philosophy and leadership, he wants us to grow and get better. Changes each week are all about achieving improvement. Our focus is on that, not just on analysing England, but rather looking at where we can improve and change. Rassie wants us to be dynamic, and to build capacity within the squad ahead of next year’s World Cup.’
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) June 12, 2018
Photo: Brendan Moran/Gallo Images