Coetzee confirmed as Springboks coach

Allister Coetzee has been confirmed as South Africa’s rugby coach on a four-year deal to take the Springboks past the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Coetzee succeeds Heyneke Meyer, who resigned after South Africa finished third at last year’s World Cup.

Coetzee takes over a South African squad where a number of experienced veterans and former World Cup winners have retired.

He will need to select a new captain to replace Jean de Villiers ahead of his first challenge, a three-test home series against Ireland in June.

South Africa then play world champion New Zealand, Australia and Argentina in the annual southern hemisphere Rugby Championship.

The 52-year-old’s appointment was widely expected.

He was given the job at the beginning of the month but the South African Rugby Union delayed naming him to give him time to negotiate an end to his contract with Japanese club Kobelco Steelers.

Coetzee was an assistant coach under Jake White when South Africa won the World Cup in 2007 and then in charge of South African Super Rugby team the Stormers from 2010-15.

As a former backline coach, he has been viewed as someone to develop a more open, attacking game for the Springboks.

He said on Tuesday he’d still maintain their traditional forward strength.

“Radical change is probably too radical,” Coetzee said at a news conference broadcast live in the country which sees rugby as its national game.

“We will make sure we still play to our strengths.”

Coetzee is just the second black coach of the Springboks and will face more pressure than his predecessors to bring more black players through to the national team, an ongoing issue in South African rugby, which is still dominated by whites.

The South African Rugby Union has a signed agreement with government to develop more black talent.

“It’s not an issue for me, honestly,” Coetzee said of transforming the racial makeup of the team.

“Like I say, this is South Africa. … It’s unique and I think that uniqueness must make us stronger. It’s an exciting challenge.”

Coetzee immediately indicated his eagerness for transformation by naming Mzwandile Stick, who is black and a former sevens international, as the Springboks’ new backline coach.

Johann van Graan, who worked under Meyer, was retained as forwards coach.

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