Boks hit back at Jake White's column: 'It shows arrogance to suggest we can't learn at Test level'

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Mzwandile Stick and Siya Kolisi. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
Mzwandile Stick and Siya Kolisi. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
  • Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick expressed disappointment at a hard-hitting column written by Bulls director of rugby Jake White.
  • White bemoaned the Bok team that played in Bloemfontein last week, suggesting that Test rugby is 'not a place to learn lessons'.
  • It was the turn of the Boks to respond on Friday, with Stick saying White's comments had shades of arrogance, especially from someone who has been in the Bok hot seat before.

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick almost seemed to let off a heavy sigh when questioned about Jake White's hard-hitting column for RugbyPass on Thursday.

In it, the former Bok mentor White let out a broadside on the current coaching group following their narrow loss to Wales in Bloemfontein last weekend.

Current Bok head coach Jacques Nienaber and co made a whooping 19 changes to the side last week before bringing back their A-listers, with a few alterations, for this weekend.

"I'm told his rationale for picking that second Test team was because he wanted that group of players to know what it was like to win a series, he didn't want them just to be playing a dead rubber in the Third Test," White wrote in that eyebrow-raising column.

"To answer that, I'd say I don't think there should ever be a dead rubber test when you're playing at home."

He went on: "The job of a national coach is to win Test matches. National coaches shouldn't use Tests to see if players are good enough; that's what A-sides or training is for."

Facing the media on Friday, Stick decried White's comments, starting off measured in his reply.

"I'm not one to concern myself about what other people are saying about the team," Stick began. 

"I understand though, that as South Africans, we are passionate people about rugby and the Springboks. What Jake said, that's his own airtime and we won't pay too much mind to it."

Stick then shifted his thoughts, saying he was disappointed that White went to the lengths he did in his column.

"I become disappointed when people who were in the position that we [coaches] find ourselves in, who did things their own way, coming out like this," he said.

"He used to rotate teams; he used to lose matches as well, but ultimately went on to win the World Cup, which is always healthy for South African rugby.

"It shows arrogance to me when someone suggests we cannot learn at this level, that's my big concern; I know of career CEOs and captains of industry who continuously learn on the job because I don't know a single leader who isn't constantly learning.

"We too remain good students of the game."

The Springboks and Wales take the three-match series to a decider in Cape Town on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 17:05.

Teams:

Springboks

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Elrigh Louw, 22 Faf de Klerk, 23 Willie le Roux

Wales

15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar (captain), 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Gareth Thomas

Substitutes: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Owen Watkin

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