Former Springbok coach Jake White is being strongly touted as the next Stormers coach – but incumbent Rassie Erasmus has denied rumours that he wants out of his Western Province contract and that he is on his way to join a rugby franchise in the Eastern Cape.
Speaking from Wellington, New Zealand, where his Stormers team are preparing for their fourth Super 14 tour game against the Hurricanes, Erasmus said he wanted to complete his three-year contract with WP.
“I am only a couple of months into my second season with WP. We have lost a few close games and I am unhappy about that, because I know we should be doing a lot better and we have not progressed as I would have liked, but that does not mean I am going to bail out,” said Erasmus.
“As with all contracts, there will be an evaluation after the Super 14, not just of me, but of all aspects of the Stormers and where the Stormers are going. Obviously, if it is decided that I am not up to taking the Stormers to the top, then I will have to step aside.
“But if that is the case, I would be surprised. There are also still five games to go this season, and hopefully we can use those to finish on a high.”
It is no secret that Erasmus is being head-hunted by the Eastern Cape franchise, which is still hoping to be awarded Super 14 status.
But Erasmus moved to Cape Town from Bloemfontein so he could be better placed to pursue his dream of winning the Super 14. It would not make sense for him to move to a franchise that is not guaranteed Super 14 status. He has also said he has no interest in coaching only in the Currie Cup.
“I do have to consider my options. I would be stupid if I didn’t. Every coach has to do that, just like every player has to. You need to keep your options open otherwise you get caught out if the province you are contracted to decides it doesn’t want you.”
Apart from the Eastern Cape, it is understood that Erasmus is also being targeted by some overseas clubs. While the Stormers have lost six of their eight games this season, and some question Erasmus’s ability to handle the pressure of being Stormers coach, he is highly respected by fellow top coaches, who rate him as one of the top rugby brains in the country.
Erasmus’s assurances that he wants to continue with WP come at a time when rugby has been rife with talk of him bailing out, with some top rugby people saying that White is being primed to take over.
WP officials say, however, they have faith in Erasmus and are reluctant to contemplate a change now.
“We have to give Rassie a chance. Let’s not forget that up to now he has yet to work with a squad that has been fully contracted by him. From later this year that will change,” said a top source.
Former Springbok coach White, who has been out of rugby in any serious capacity since masterminding the World Cup triumph in 2007, has made it known that he is eager to coach at the highest level again. He has also said he wants to remain in the Cape.
But while it has been learned that there was a brief contact between White and a top WP official – at the instigation of White – highly placed sources have denied that White is being engaged in negotiations to take over from Erasmus.
It appears that the rumour was started in Joburg, where the Lions Rugby Union wants White as a high- profile replacement for Loffie Eloff. It is believed Lions officials became incensed when White told them he wanted the Stormers job – and they assumed this meant the Stormers were negotiating with White.
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Argus on April 16, 2009Tweet