Rassie's 'honest' transformation stance unifies Boks

Elton Jantjies (left) and Mzwandile Stick.
Elton Jantjies (left) and Mzwandile Stick.

Cape Town - Rassie Erasmus' honest and open stance on transformation has helped cultivate a positive, unified spirit in the Springbok camp. 

That was the word from Bok flyhalf Elton Jantjies and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick on Tuesday ahead of the 3rd Test against England in Cape Town this weekend. 

Erasmus, since taking over as national coach at the beginning of the year, has been very clear on his desire to transform the Boks. 

He has been set a target by SA Rugby to ensure that 45% of the players who represent the Boks this year are players of colour, while the target for next year's Rugby World Cup squad remains 50%. 

From his very first press conference, Erasmus insisted that he would not shy away from talking about transformation in South African rugby and that the time had come to accept its place in the game. 

Since then, Erasmus has picked Siya Kolisi as his captain while he has also given Bok debuts to Travis Ismaiel, Makazole Mapimpi, Ox Nche, Marvin Orie, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Embrose Papier, Aphiwe Dyantyi and S'bu Nkosi. 

It is safe to say that the current crop of Bok players is a more transformed group than ever before, and while Erasmus is ticking all the right boxes in that regard presently, he has also done himself a favour by securing a valuable series win over England. 

It has all translated into a Bok squad that is more together than it has been for some time.

"We live in a very unique country and to have someone like Rassie who doesn't shy away from the challenges that we're facing is great," Stick told media on Tuesday.

"He's a very honest guy and he doesn't play hide and seek about stuff.

"I remember the first alignment camps we had with the players, Rassie mentioned three things to them. He said we had to go back to a winning culture, we had to transform the team to be what it is required to be and that the image would come after that. That was the message that was sent to everyone; players and management.

"Everyone is working towards that direction."

Honesty, it seems, has been key in Erasmus winning over his players.

"When the coach is honest with you and he tells you where you stand, the players will believe in him and make sure that when they get an opportunity they grab it with both hands," Stick said.

"We took 13 debutants to America ... and then we came back and had a couple more. It shows that Rassie does give players opportunities and hopefully when it comes to the team announcement on Thursday there will be another couple of new guys."

Jantjies, who looks set to make a return to the matchday squad this weekend after being left out in Bloemfontein, agreed.

"I think it comes down from the top. If the coach's mindset is a certain way obviously it influences the other management group, the medical team and the playing group," the playmaker said.

"That's something that I've picked up and that we've picked up as a group. It comes from the boss straight down to the last player.

"Everyone has got the same mindset and work ethic, and everybody just wants to achieve something. That's something you will see off the field; this group looks happy and they're enjoying rugby and that's something that comes from the boss."

Kick-off at Newlands on Saturday is at 17:05.

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