Next captain imperative to Bok success

Allister Coetzee.

Desperately disappointing results headed by the loss to Japan at the last Rugby World Cup, questionable management and player selections and shocking performances are just some of the factors that have landed the Boks on seventh in the latest official World Rugby rankings, their lowest position since the rankings were introduced in October 2003.

This year marks a new beginning for the national rugby side in multiple ways: head coach Allister Coetzee will have a full season with the Boks and he will be selecting a new captain, which will be as important as ever – and he knows it.

The coach has confirmed that he will be calling on the help of psychologist Pieter Kruger.

It’s fair to say that the Springboks have endured trying times in the last few years.

He was one of the mediators at the national coaching indaba in Cape Town in October, in making the choice of the next skipper in an extensive process that would take all the aspects of the challenge that faces a leader of the national team into account.

One would also assume that the process will cover the characteristics a Bok captain must have to give the squad a better chance of success, which, as far as yours truly is concerned, include natural leadership skills and time to grow into the position.

The player must also be a certified starter and, to a lesser extent, be a forward player – aspects the two most successful Bok skippers Jacobus Francois Pienaar and John William Smit had in their playing days.

So it was satisfying to hear Coetzee confirming that the captain would have to be a player who would be sure of his place in both the squad and the starting team and that the net will be cast wider in the selection process.

Seems like the Bok mentor has learnt from the mistakes he made in selecting Adriaan Strauss, who did not fill most of the above criteria, as skipper.

In fact, both Pienaar and Smit were 26 when they became captains of the green and gold in their respective William Web Ellis Trophy-winning eras, giving them both the time to grow into the position. Both had natural leadership skills and brought calming effects on the pitch.

Their starting positions were guaranteed throughout their tenures and both led from the front, literally and figuratively.

I’m deliberately dismissing the argument about local players versus overseas-based players because I believe plying your club trade overseas can be made up by commitment.

Overseas-based candidates for the captaincy should be given an equal chance to lead the Boks, provided they’re willing to put in the commitment.

These include loose forwards Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw.

Locally based experienced frontrunner is Lions skipper Warren Whiteley, who is in a mould of Pienaar in my Bok skipper qualifications mentioned above – but Vermeulen could be in his way in the selection pecking order.

Other locally based Boks who are skippers of their teams are the Cheetahs’ Francois Venter, the Sharks’ Pat Lambie and Siya Kolisi of the Stormers.

Here’s the interesting part – none of the captaincy candidates are certain Bok starters, with Vermeulen perhaps being the exception.

On the other hand, Kolisi, who will be presumably doing battle for the No 6 jersey with Louw, who’s at the twilight of his career, is turning 26 in June and has proven leadership skills. He’s of course also an openside flanker like Pienaar.

Unfortunately for Kolisi, his chances of leading the Boks are slim because of obvious reasons.

Over to you, Allister… – @SabeloBoksburg

  AUTHOR
Sabelo Mashego
Sports Journalist

Latest News

COMMENTS

Top