Johannesburg - South Africa coach Allister Coetzee says he does not read newspapers, which is just as well given the stinging criticism of his reign ahead of a tour to Europe.
The struggling Springboks arrive in London on Saturday for an
exhibition match with the Barbarians followed by Tests against England, Italy
After five defeats in nine Tests this year, a leading South
African rugby columnist believes the two-time world champions could lose the
internationals in London, Florence and Cardiff.
"Expect more carnage at Twickenham against
England," wrote former Springboks media manager Mark Keohane in Business
Day, mindful of a 53-3 rout there in 2002.
South Africa conceded nine tries in a 57-15 thrashing from
world champions New Zealand in Durban this month - a record home loss for the
green and gold.
"The potential of a first defeat against Italy is now
real and Wales will complete the misery," predicted Keohane.
Coetzee was appointed last April after Heyneke Meyer opted
not to seek a second four-year contract amid criticism of his
"pre-historic" tactics and a reluctance to promote black stars.
Meyer had a mixed reign - coming within three points of
beating New Zealand in a 2015 Rugby World Cup semi-final after a humiliating
loss to minnows Japan at the start of the tournament.
Keohane believes Coetzee should have resigned after the humiliating Durban defeat by the All Blacks.
"Defeat in Durban demanded his resignation. He said the
players he started with were the best, but 13 of the Lions team that played in
the 2016 Super Rugby final were excluded.
"Springbok rugby is in free fall, but the arrogance of
Coetzee knows no bounds. He does not read the papers and does not care what the
"He was satisfied that his coaching staff and players
had all the answers. His Springboks are a disgrace to the jersey.
"Coetzee is liked because he does not challenge the
administrators. He is liked because he is inoffensive. But his team selections
and results have been offensive.
"Equally offensive is the notion that his selections
are right because a 57-15 scoreline would indicate that there was absolutely
Keohane was critical when Coetzee succeeded Meyer, saying
the former Stormers coach did not rank among the top 10 in the world
and, therefore, should not have been a candidate.
While many Springboks supporters are openly pessimistic
about the tour to Europe, Coetzee spent this week preparing in Johannesburg and
"Playing during the northern hemisphere winter is
always a huge challenge and we are going to have to win territorial battles
inch by inch," he told reporters.
"The conditions are very different to South Africa and
the battles will be even more physical and tactical than what we have
experienced so far this season.
"Many past matches in Europe involving the Springboks
have been won by small margins," added an assistant coach of the 2007
South Africa Rugby World Cup-winning team.
Coetzee identified defence, tactical kicking and
conditioning as three areas requiring immediate improvement if a European
whitewash is to be avoided.
"Our defence is not what it used to be," he
lamented. "This crucial facet of our play has been neglected. Perhaps we
have become obsessed with expansive, ball-in-hand rugby.
"Our tactical kicking game has failed because of poor
execution and poor chasing. We have to retain the strengths of South African
rugby and get better at them."
SuperSport TV analyst and former Springbok flyhalf Naas
Botha said: "Everybody talks about tactical kicking, but no one
"Tactical kicking is about the opponent having to work
hard to get to the ball - not kicking straight down the throat of the opposing
Coetzee said conditioning - an area where the Springboks
have fallen far behind the All Blacks - was problematic and every individual
needed to be handled differently.
South Africa play the Barbarians at Wembley Stadium on November 5, England at Twickenham on November 12, Italy on November 19 and Wales on November 26.