Cape Town - Is Allister Coetzee out of the running for the vacant Springbok coaching position?
This seems to be the case as the former Stormers coach told Japanese media that he had given his Japanese club - the Kobe Steelers - the assurance that he would be back in the Far East to see out his second year of his contract in the J-League.
Coetzee was the favourite to take over the vacant Bok coaching position after Heyneke Meyer withdrew his name from a possible reappointment after a mixed Rugby World Cup campaign in England last year.
Since then Coetzee had received wide support among rugby unions, with Western Province publicly backing him for the job.
However, despite an unofficial approach from SARU, nothing further has come from the chat and Coetzee’s decision to inform his club he will be back seems to rule him out of contention for the Bok job.
Coetzee not only informed the club but also told journalists covering the final weekend of the Japanese Top League that he would be returning to Japan and not taking the Bok job.
With SARU not putting the job up for application but deciding rather to headhunt a suitable candidate, it seems the favourite tag - if Coetzee is ruling himself out - would fall to SARU Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus.
Erasmus has had his name mentioned in several circles as the best possible candidate for the job, but currently has a major workload at SARU which will need to be sorted out before any such thoughts are entertained.
Erasmus not only is the Director of Rugby, but also heads up the SA Referees society. His technical analysis programme is used by the various national teams and he is currently overseeing the SARU Mobi-unit - a mobile coaching unit that is deployed to help provinces where need be.
The SARU Mobi-unit has effectively taken over the running of the Southern Kings franchise along with new coach Deon Davids to try and ready the franchise for the upcoming Super Rugby tournament.
The only appointment that is certain at the moment is that of assistant coach Johan van Graan, who is the only member of Heyneke Meyer’s management team to be retained after the World Cup.
It has been speculated that Van Graan would retain his position under a new Bok coach, while SARU would appoint the assistant coaches for the new Bok coach, whoever he may be.
This was apparently a sticking point with Coetzee’s situation, as former Stormers assistant coach Matthew Proudfoot was his preferred forwards coach if appointed.
Coetzee also would need to be released by his Japanese club as he still has a year to run on the contract.
Former Bulls coach Frans Ludeke was initially linked to the Kobe Steelers job if Coetzee took the Bok job.
SARU are set to make the appointment next month which will have to be ratified by the General Council at its first meeting in March.