World Cup-winning Springbok coach Jake White will have a “hands on” role at the Golden Lions in the Currie Cup season, while putting in place the structures he feel will make the team a competitive Super 14 outfit.
Jan de Koning reports for rugby365.com:
Speaking at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Friday, where he released some details of his audit on the Golden Lions’ coaching structures, White made it clear he and his World Cup coaching panel will be working very intimately with new coach Hans Coetzee.
“I’m going to be quite hands on,” White said, when asked to what extend he and his company, Winning Ways, will be assisting the Golden Lions.
“I’m going to be helping Hans [Coetzee], I’m going to be overseeing the coaching structures,” he said, adding: “I’m not taking over from Hans, he is picked as the coach.
“I know him very well and I coached with him at schoolboy level, so I’m sure he has enough confidence in his own ability, but I’m going to be hands on in terms of what his needs are … without taking over.”
White was at pains to stress that he will be putting in place structures for Coetzee to make the Lions competitive on both the domestic and international (Super 14) stage.
“I want to make sure they can get all the intellectual capital from me and Eddie Jones, who had a successful Super 14 campaign with the Brumbies,” White said, adding that he wants to “empower” the people in the system and making sure they get “added value”.
White’s media statement, also handed out on Friday, was quite scathing of Coetzee’s predecessor, Eugene Eloff – who was fired in controversial fashion last month, amidst accusations of “lies and deceit” that marked his departure.
White was particularly scathing of the conditioning of the players.
“Derik Coetzee, our company’s conditioning specialist, reviewed the results of the tests and they were disgraceful,” White’s statement said.
He also produced a series of statistic in which he compared the current Lions squad to the 2007 World Cup winning squad, which White said is proof of just how poor the structures at the Lions were.
“Coetzee, who headed the Springboks’ 2007 World Cup conditioning campaign, compared each player and each player grouping to norm of the norm of the Springbok squad that won the World Cup,” White said.
“The reason I asked for that comparison was because the core of that side plays for the Bulls and Sharks in the Super 14 and the Lions players have to be at the same levels of conditioning if they are to be title contenders in 2010.
“Of the 41 players tested in the last week, not one met the norm in all seven disciplines. Hans Coetzee, the interim head coach and I met with the players, and it has been made clear what is expected of them if they are to be successful as professional players.”
With a host of senior players – some who have already left for greener pastures and others who are ruled out for the season with injuries – means the Lions are looking to rebuild their team.
Coetzee will start his Currie Cup campaign without stalwarts like André Pretorius (injured and heading for Perth), Lawrence Sephaka (injured), Louis Ludik (injured), Shandre Frolick (injured), Gerhard Mostert (injured), Jannie Boshoff (injured), Willie Wepener (heading abroad), Ernst Joubert (heading abroad), Ethienne Reynecke (heading abroad) and Anton van Zyl (moved to Cape Town).
However, White said the recruitment for replacements has already started.
“Some of those players we’ll be earmarking will be under contract at other unions,” White said, adding: “But there must be some sort of structures in place that will attract players to want to come and play in this province.
“That is what we are going to try and set up over the Currie Cup – to ensure that it is very professional, that the player feels as though he is getting added value in terms of the way that he is being coached, the way he is being conditioned and the way that he is being looked after as a professional.
“Obviously by word of mouth players will say to each other the way things are being at the Lions is in a professional manner,” White added.
He warned that there is “no quick-fix”, but added that there are players that have shown “huge interest” in joining the Lions now that there’s an opportunity to be professional.
He said he does not want to talk about a “building phase”, but rather about putting structures in place.
White said there are lots of similarities between the Golden Lions now and when he took over as Springbok coach.
“This is no different to when I took over the Springbok side in 2004. The public then were also saying how long are we going to wait.
“The only way you get it right is you start winning.
“There is no guarantee of that until you get the things that are off the field in place – things such as conditioning, making sure the environment, the venue where they train, the players are happy.”
He described the players as the “biggest assets” of this union and wants to make them feel as if they are being looked after.
He said the Currie Cup will be used as a springboard for a successful Super 14 campaign.
“We want to get the structures in place and those structures will be overseen by the people who were successful at the World Cup.
“We are going to be actively involved during the Currie Cup campaign and during the Currie Cup campaign we will see what needs to be done in terms of preparation [for the Super 14].
“While the Currie Cup is on now there needs to be preparation done for the Super 14 season, because the same players will be involved in the Super 14 next year – at least the core of those players.
“There is no time frame other than that we will be actively involved during the Currie Cup to put those in place.”
He spoke of a lack of synergy between the conditioning programmes and the style of play.
“The reality was no synergy from the conditioning staff or the coaching staff as to what they wanted to achieve.
“If you want to play an aerobic game and move the ball from side to side you need to have the skill and the conditioning systems in place for that. If you want to play direct to ensure that you go forward and over people you got to have teams and conditioning that assist in doing that.
“This is about creating an environment where the players feel they are professionally treated in a professional environment where you get the best out of those players.
“There is no doubt the squad needs strengthening with reference to the Super 14, but a player must have a reason to be lured to a union, and that will be the challenge of the Golden Lions Rugby Union and Jake White’s Winning Ways in the next four months.
“We can only have an influence on what happens now and to labour the last three years serves no purpose, as that can’t be changed.”Tweet