Coetzee 'not going anywhere until 2019'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Allister Coetzee has passionately defended his record as South Africa head coach following reports Saturday’s 22-24 defeat to Wales would be his last match at the helm.
The Springboks trailed 3-21 shortly before half-time in Cardiff but mounted an epic fightback that almost earned them the win.
But Coetzee’s tenure – which started after the 2015 Rugby World Cup – has been blighted by a number of humiliating defeats, including to Ireland earlier in the tour, and reports surfaced in the build-up to Saturday’s match that Coetzee’s days in the job could be numbered.
However, Coetzee seemed intent on seeing out his contract after watching his side narrowly miss out on a comeback victory.
"I am signed until 2019, that is what my contract is saying," he told a news conference.
"The team has really grown and there is a lot of improvement, and it’s a really healthy team environment.
"Last year we didn’t win a game on tour and [this year] we’ve won two, so there’s progress.
"What needs to change? We need to cut out the individual errors. That is one massive thing.
"This is a young, young side. And already they’ve dominated at the set-piece.
"We conceded three penalties, one crucial one. But it shows how this team has grown over the years.
"And when a team only concedes three penalties, what more do you want to change?
"I think what needs to change is we need to get the result. I suppose if you look at outcomes only, you are missing the plot completely because you have to create an opportunity for development.
"If you want to look for superstars to come and win every Test match, then you are living in a fool’s paradise.
"You’ve got to give players opportunities to grow and to develop. You cannot expect to build Rome in one day,"
Reflecting on 2016, when the Springboks won only four of 12 Test matches, Coetzee added: "Last year was a fiasco. Definitely a fiasco. So we started from scratch this year. That’s how I regard it: year one.
"We started with a new team and I’ve now got the best players in South Africa playing here.
"These players are much better conditioned than last year. So with a little bit of collaboration, there’s already progress and I’m positive about that.
"If you’re going to continue to look at the negatives, then you’ll get what you’re looking for. You can write what you want to write about that.
"But this side is definitely on the up,"
Meanwhile, captain Eben Etzebeth was forced off the field just before halftime against Wales in Cardiff after he sustained a nerve injury, which caused severe pain in his left shoulder.
"The scans we took on Saturday evening after the match came out normal," explained Konrad von Hagen, the Springbok team doctor. "Eben will however visit a specialist in Cape Town to further investigate the injured shoulder and his troublesome back,"