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VIDEO: Boks to 'embrace' the Henry Honiball approach

Tony Eion Brown, once a staple in New Zealand, is now plotting the downfall of the All Blacks.


As a newly-appointed Springbok assistant coach, his first opportunity in the most celebrated rivalry in the game, will be in the Rugby Championship face-off at Ellis Park on August 31.

His decision to accept an offer from Rassie Erasmus to reinforce the coaching panel of the back-to-back World Cup winners has resulted in more that just a few ‘raised eyebrows’.

There was some backlash in his homeland, but the 18-times capped All Black played down any suggestions that he can now be seen as an apostate.

The history and the rivalry between South Africa and New Zealand – 106 Tests, dating back more than a century – is the main reason why he now wears the Green and Gold coaching garments.

“I want to be a part of that [rivalry], I want to coach in that atmosphere,” he said at the ‘unveiling’ of Erasmus’ coaching panel.

“I want to coach to Ellis Park, where the stadium is full,” the 49-year-old said, adding: “It is the reason why I coach.


“It is the reason why I played – to do it at the highest level.

“I don’t see it as disrespecting the All Blacks.

“I just see it as an amazing opportunity to be part of that history and rivalry.”

Of his 18 international appearances – 11 off the bench – three were against the Springboks: the 28-0 win in Dunedin in July 1999, the 25-12 win in Christchurch in July 2000 and the 12-3 win (his only start against the Boks) in Cape Town in July 2001.


He said the ‘excitement’ of going to Springboks versus All Blacks Tests and preparing the players – even though he is on the flip side of the coin now – is everything he loves about the game and coaching.

(WATCH as celebrated flyhalf Tony Eion Brown explains why he accepted an offer to coach the Springboks against the All Blacks and the style he sees South Africa playing….)

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“They are going to be big Tests,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “They will be won on little moments.

“It is just awesome to be part of it.”

Asked about his philosophy of the game and a self-proclaimed fan of Springbok Henry Honiball’s style, a renowned, Brown said it was the style of attack that really impressed him.

“He attacked the line so flat, that it was hard for the defence to come forward.

“When I look at the way he played and the way I played, where the game is going and the identity of the Springboks, I see us [South Africa] being aggressive on attack.

“[I see us] being flat and in your face, which will create space for those exciting backs.

“Henry Honiball has always been a part of my coaching [philosophy].”

Brown, a product of Kaitangata in south Otago, is unfortunately not to have had a longer Test career.

At any other period in New Zealand history, Brown may have been feted among the great flyhalves of the game.

However, it was his misfortune to coincide his career with two consummate masters, Andrew Mehrtens and Carlos Spencer, and so for the most part he was in their respective shadows.

Yet he still had a worthy career with Otago, the Highlanders and for three seasons between 1999 and 2001, if mainly in a backup role, was a regular member of All Black squads.

After more than 200 first-class matches – which included stints with the Sharks (2206) and Stormers (2008) – Brown took up coaching with the Wild Knights in Japan (2011), before returning to New Zealand and Otago in 2012, also assisting the Highlanders to their only Super Rugby title in 2015, the Sunwolves and Japan, before returning to New Zealand in 2020.


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