Springbok confusion as coach and captain say different things

Allister Coetzee and Eben Etzebeth after the Springboks' arrival. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Allister Coetzee continues to see the sunny side of the Boks’ battle to recover pride but Eben Etzebeth is not quite falling for that.

Things have got so confusing in the Springbok camp that coach and captain can’t even agree on how 2017 went.

Embattled Allister Coetzee was typically cheery upon the national team’s arrival from the disappointing European tour, continuing his bullish attitude in the face of mounting speculation that he’ll be axed from his position.

“It’s not (the results) there for us yet,” he said on Monday.

“I’m really pleased that there’s been a 50% improvement in our results since last year. In 2016, we didn’t win a single game on tour. This year, we’ve won two of our four matches. We’ve come back from our setbacks. I’d say this tour was a satisfactory one. We started with a new team this year. 12 new caps.”

In contrast, a crocked Eben Etzebeth – walking gingerly with his left shoulder in a medical sling – was rather less sunny.

“It was a disappointing tour in the end. We would’ve loved to win all four matches,” said the towering lock.

“We missed a few things along the way. Overall it was an average season.”

The two differing views seems to further suggest that Coetzee and Etzebeth aren’t always on the same page when it comes to judging results.

Following the 57-0 thrashing at the hands of New Zealand in Albany earlier this year, there was a poignant picture taken of a smiling Coetzee trying to shake Etzebeth’s hand.

But the skipper looked disinterested.

Coetzee then attracted further criticism when he stated that there were “numerous positives” to emerge from that embarrassing result.

However, Etzebeth did express his support for his national coach.

Coetzee will undergo a performance evaluation this month, with some reports suggesting his 44% win record infringes on the performance clause in his contract.

“I have no say in those decisions. If it were up to me, I’d keep him as Springbok coach,” said Etzebeth.

Saru’s general council meeting this week won’t have Coetzee’s employment on the agenda as its re-drafted constitution states that only the executive council can hire or fire coaches.



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