Coetzee concentrating on slaying the dragon

Springbok coach doesn't have time to worry about his job

01 December 2017 - 07:37 By LIAM DEL CARME
Springboks coach Allister Coetzee.
Springboks coach Allister Coetzee.

The rumour mill is in overdrive but Allister Coetzee does not have time to dwell on the fact that Saturday's Test against Wales might be his last in charge of the Springboks.

He has a dragon to slay and there is simply no 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 lineup.

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 back. He is an X-factor player.

"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 underrated player. He has a low-error rate. You need that kind of consistency. He has two wingers who can spark."

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