Cape Town – Rassie Erasmus will get back into formal coaching and team up with Mzwandile Stick to coach the South African ‘A’ side in their two tour matches on the November trip to Europe.
SA Rugby announced on Tuesday that Stick will be the head coach of the SA ‘A’ team for their fixtures against Munster (November 10) at Thomond Park and Bristol Bears (November 17) at Ashton Gate.
Erasmus will “oversee” the coaching team, which will also include a number of younger mentors such as Junior Springbok boss Bafana Nhleko, Sharks Currie Cup coach Joey Mongalo and Griquas scrum coach Wian du Preez.
The Bok and SA ‘A’ squads will be announced within three weeks, and will kick off with the Test team taking on Ireland in Dublin on November 5.
“The SA ‘A’ matches will have multiple benefits for SA Rugby as it will open the door for some of our top up-and-coming coaches to be exposed to high-level rugby at senior level in a national team set-up, while at the same time allowing us to continue building our player base as look ahead to the Rugby Cup,” Erasmus said on Tuesday.
“This season alone we used over 50 players in our Test matches, which is fantastic as one of our core pillars in the Springbok team is to build squad depth, but with limited playing opportunities for several players and the fact that we lost out on a vital year to build our squad due to the Covid-19 pandemic, these matches will be crucial.”
As a former Director of Rugby at Munster, Erasmus will be well-informed of their capabilities as they forge a fresh path under new coach Graham Rowntree, who has taken over from South African Johann van Graan, who has joined Bath in England.
But for Stick, it will be about developing the next generation, especially considering untimely injuries ahead of next year’s Rugby Cup.
That could see a number of United Rugby Championship stars such as Manie Libbok, Evan Roos and Johan Grobbelaar in the mix for SA ‘A’.
Apart from the Irish Test, the Boks will face France, Italy and England on successive weekends in November.
“The closest one can get to playing for the Springboks is the SA ‘A’ team, and we believe these matches will give us a good idea of the coaches and young players within our ranks as well as offering some experienced players the opportunity to return from injury and get back to form as they contest for places with an eye on Rugby Cup spots,” Erasmus said.
“Munster are renowned for their status as Irish rugby giants, and as we have seen in the United Rugby Championship, they will test the team to the limit.
“We expect Bristol to play more of a running game, especially with Pat Lam – a former New Zealand junior and club player, and Auckland Blues coach – influencing their style of play.
“These are going to be challenging matches, which is exactly what we want less than a year out from the Rugby Cup.”
SA ‘A’ team management
Head coach: Mzwandile Stick
Assistant coaches: Bafana Nhleko, Joey Mongalo, Wian du Preez
Technical analyst: Willie Maree
Operations manager: Zintsika Tashe
Logistics manager: Barry McDonald
Team doctor: Clement Plaatjies
Physiotherapist: Lance Lemmetjies
Conditioning coach: Johan van Wyk