'Matthew will galvanise those England forwards'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Schalk Brits believes England will be the “perfect fit” for Matthew Proudfoot, who is set to join Eddie Jones’s coaching team and repair the scrum damage he helped inflict when South Africa won the World Cup final in Japan.
England’s scrum was put into reverse by the Springboks after Harlequins prop Kyle Sinckler was forced off in the opening minutes with a concussion and replacement Dan Cole found himself under intense pressure as South Africa powered their way to a 32-12 triumph in Yokohama.
Proudfoot – who won four caps for Scotland and played for Glasgow and Edinburgh – is now expected to be revealed shortly as the man to replace Neal Hatley as the England scrum coach after Jones’ assistant took up a role with Bath in the Premiership.
Former Saracens hooker Brits, who was included in the Springbok World Cup squad to add vital experience, worked closely with Proudfoot whose contract with the champions came to an end after the final.
Rassie Erasmus has now stepped down as Springboks coach to focus on his role as director of rugby at SA Rugby with defence coach Jacques Nienaber expected to take over the main job and former Southern Kings coach Deon Davids set to replace Proudfoot as forwards coach.
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South Africa’s loss will be England’s gain, reckoned Brits. “Matthew will galvanise those England forwards to be the best they can be,” he told RugbyPass.
“He was a great attribute to the Springboks and will be for England if he gets the job. He will be a big loss to the Boks. The two teams who will really push England going forward are New Zealand and South Africa and Matthew will bring a lot of technical knowledge with him. It will put England in good stead.
“England are getting a coach who I worked with at the World Cup where we lost just one line-out and the set-piece wasn’t too bad, was it?
“It will be a good fit for England and I believe Matthew’s heart is in the right place – he cares for the players. He invests in the guys he is coaching and is passionate and emotional about his players and protects them. Really caring about the person is a great attribute.
“If you look at the England pack, they don’t need a lot of technical advice although Matthew can provide that because he is a great scrum coach and also a line-out expert, especially on defence. He has grown a lot as a coach and a person.
“If you look at someone like Mako Vunipola then technically there is not a lot that you offer him or guys like Jamie George, Maro Itoje and George Kruis, but you get the guys together to believe in one goal and the pack goes forward and so does the team.”
Brits, who is still intending to try and play in the 2020 Varsity Match once he starts studying at Cambridge University next September, believes Proudfoot’s experience of Northern Hemisphere rugby as a player in Scotland will give him a crucial understanding of rugby in this area of the world.
“It is a totally different game compared to the rugby in the Southern Hemisphere,” explained Brits. “In the Northern Hemisphere if your set-piece doesn’t function then your game doesn’t. Premiership and Heineken [European] Cup rugby is the nearest you get to playing Test rugby from a set-piece perspective.”
Brits admitted that the Springbok dominance in the scrum during the final in Yokohama was significantly helped by the early injury suffered by tighthead Sinckler which saw him replaced by Cole after just two minutes.
“With Kyle being injured it meant that our six forwards and two backs split replacements worked perfectly for our squad. It meant that Dan had to play almost the entire game against two fresh loosehead props and that was extremely difficult.”
By Chris Jones, RugbyPass
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