Coetzee is the right man but he must pick his team
The identity of the 13th post-isolation Springbok coach is set to be revealed on April 1.
While Allister Coetzee is odds-on favourite to replace Heyneke Meyer, Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has been touted as a genuine alternative.
Though Ackermann is a competent young mentor whose team plays an enterprising brand of rugby, he still has to serve his apprenticeship. He has terrific potential, but I don't feel that he's ready for Test level.
In South Africa, we live in the present. When a team is the flavour of the month we are quick to offer up its coach and best players for the national set-up. However, rugby works in cycles and all the studies on successful teams reveal continuity in coaching and playing staff is the way forward.
Coetzee has been described as a mediocre coach by some critics, which I find really unfair. His failure to win a Super rugby title during his six-year tenure with the Stormers is still held against him. However, he forged them into a competitive playing unit and, trust me, winning silverware requires a fair amount of fortune. Coetzee isn't perfect, but which coach is?
If you peruse the 52-year-old's CV from an objective standpoint, you will discover that few coaches in South Africa have come through the system the way the former scrumhalf has.
And the fact of the matter is that all successful coaches on the international scene are seasoned campaigners. The England rugby team serves as a case in point. The RFU promoted Stuart Lancaster from England Saxons to the senior national set-up. He attained reasonable results prior to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but, because he wasn't tried and tested, when he began to experience setbacks, he struggled. In contrast, Eddie Jones has underlined the value of appointing a senior head coach. Having defeated Wales this past weekend, the Australian has guided England to its first Six Nations crown since 2011.
Once you have been in the system for a substantial amount of time, as a senior coach you will invariably attain success because you are able to assess your team's primary strengths and weaknesses, and surround yourself with a management group you believe in and trust.
Jones was wise in appointing Steve Borthwick and Paul Gustard as forwards and defence coaches respectively. Over and above the tactical acumen they offer the Roses, having previously worked with the pair, Jones didn't have to spend time cultivating relationships.
In the same breath, if Coetzee becomes national coach, for me, it's a non-negotiable that Saru allows him to appoint his own management team. He would definitely want Matthew Proudfoot as his forwards coach. Proudfoot fortified the Stormers' set-piece and followed Coetzee to Japan. Johann van Graan, Meyer's forwards coach, is still contracted to Saru, but the principle is that a head coach should always be allowed to select his own support staff.
In terms of backline and attack coach, for the good of SA rugby, I believe the new Bok coach should consider Lions assistant coach Swys de Bruin for the position. The Lions' attacking product has continually evolved under his tutelage. In turn, Coetzee was criticised for failing to advance the Stormers' attacking strategy.
An effective head coach is ultimately able to identify his personal weaknesses and bring in someone from the outside who can add value.