Allister Coetzee unfazed by guillotine hanging over his head

30 November 2017 - 19:54 By Liam Del Carme
South Africa's national rugby union team head coach Allister Coetzee.
South Africa's national rugby union team head coach Allister Coetzee.

The rumour mill is in overdrive but Allister Coetzee doesn’t have time to dwell on the fact that Saturday’s Test against Wales may be his last in charge of the Springboks.

He has a dragon to slay and there simply isn’t time to ponder such diversions‚ yet.

“If you want a good holiday‚ you must earn it‚” he said‚ sounding remarkably like one of his predecessors‚ Peter de Villiers.

“This week has been like any other Test week.

"It’s about getting over challenges. You have to make sure preparations are in place.”

Part of the preparation is assembling a team that can beat Wales on home soil.

The last two Bok teams failed.

Like Wales earlier in the day‚ Coetzee on Thursday made five changes to his starting team.

Having made his debut off the bench last week‚ Warrick Gelant now finds himself in the Springbok starting line-up.

Gelant‚ will be on the wing in the place of Courtnall Skosan who drops from the match 23 after some underwhelming performances.  

Loosehead Tendai Mtawarira has not recovered from a quad injury and his place goes to Steven Kitshoff.

In the backrow Dan du Preez comes in for Duane Vermeulen‚ while Siya Kolisi‚ as expected replaces Francois Louw.

It is Gelant’s elevation‚ however‚ that got Coetzee slightly giddy.

“I’m really excited to see him start. This is great opportunity for Warrick. He has performed consistently. Last year injury set him. He is also an X-factor players.

“He understands both positions (wing and fullback). He is an astute kicker for a winger and he spots space.”

There would have been talk of him possibly including Gelant at the expense of fullback Andries Coetzee‚ but the coach defended his namesake.

“Andries is an under rated player‚" he said.

"He has a low error rate. You need that kind of consistency. He has two wingers that can spark.”

In the pack Coetzee was forced into changing his front and back rows.

There had been concern for the fitness of the 98 times capped Mtawarira who was forced from the field in Padua.

This will be the second Test he misses this year after he under slightly mysterious circumstances was given time off for the Newlands Test against the All Blacks in October.

Like on that occasion‚ his place goes to Steven Kitshoff.

In the other front row change Malcolm Marx returns to the middle of the scrum.   

On the bench there is movement too.

“We used Uzair Cassiem on firmer fields earlier in the year‚” said Coetzee about the Cheetah’s inclusion on the bench.

“He’s got mobility and he has a passing game.

"Duane is very physical and that’s what Dan brings for us in the starting line-up. Dan has grown a lot in the last four weeks.”

Scrumhalf Louis Schreuder and centre Lukhanyo Am also feature among the reserves.

“You have to give players opportunity.

"We want to know if they can play at this level.

"They can contribute at this level‚” said Coetzee‚ who admitted it was difficult to change the team following their opening defeat to Ireland.

Wales have‚ meanwhile‚ made five changes to their side to play the Springboks.

Hadleigh Parkes‚ Aled Davies‚ Cory Hill‚ Kristian Dacey and Scott Andrews are the new faces.

The Springbok team is: Andries Coetzee; Dillyn Leyds‚ Jesse Kriel‚ Francois Venter‚ Warrick Gelant; Handre Pollard‚ Ross Cronje; Dan du Preez‚ Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ Siya Kolisi; Lood de Jager‚ Eben Etzebeth (captain); Wilco Louw‚ Malcolm Marx‚ Steven Kitshoff.

Substitutes: Bongi Mbonambi‚ Trevor Nyakane‚ Ruan Dreyer‚ Teboho Mohoje‚ Uzair Cassiem; Louis Schreuder‚ Elton Jantjies‚ Lukhanyo Am.

- TimesLIVE