Attack remains a priority at Stormers – Smal

GERT SMAL
GERT SMAL

WESTERN Province director of rugby Gert Smal expects whoever succeeds Eddie Jones as Stormers coach to bring the same attacking philosophy to the game or they won’t get the job.

Smal has made his criteria simple – six years as a Super Rugby coach with international experience and someone who wants to emphasise attack.

Jones, 55, jumped ship last week to take up the England coaching job after less than three weeks as Stormers coach.

It was a huge embarrassment for WP, but also not entirely unexpected as Jones had been linked to the England job ever since England were eliminated from the World Cup at the group stage.

Given Smal’s criteria, there is only a small handful of coaches that fit the bill.

John Mitchell – the former All Black, Western Force and Lions coach – is one. Robbie Deans, who coached the Crusaders and Wallabies, is another.

“A lot is in place here at WP already,” Smal said. “We want to play a certain style and we won’t change that.”

Jones, in his short tenure as Stormers coach, had very clear ideas on how the Stormers should play given the type of players they had at their disposal. His ideas are set to permeate through the union even in his absence.

He had already drafted a detailed training blueprint and the Stormers are set to continue working from it for now.

“To create the situations we want in attack, we need our defence to be more aggressive,” Jones said before he left.

“It’s simple really: we want to get people on the ground as quickly as possible, and if that means through chop tackling or some other way, we will work it out.

N“The Stormers will have a big forward pack but small backs, so they’ll also need the forwards to develop a range of skills to play the style of rugby we’re looking for. They are essential linking players, who have to be able to attack space in different ways.

“As a ball carrier you need to have options and you have to be able to execute those options. So having options in place comes down to support players knowing their roles. The execution of those options then AGPUR is the geographical centre of India. That could explain why the middle of the ground at Jamtha, where India and South Africa are due to play the third test on Wednesday, was uppermost for some yesterday.

After the visitors’ first training session there, the first question asked of J P Duminy was whether he had seen the pitch.

“I haven’t, sir,” Duminy replied. “So I guess I’m going to have to after this press conference seeing as you asked the question . . .”

And so the stubborn refrain of this series resumed. Can we get past the pitch already? It seems not.

“. . . but I guess the expectancy is that it will turn,” Duminy continued.

Mohali, where India won the first test by 108 runs inside three days, certainly did, although the Proteas dug their own grave by playing for more turn than was evident.

In Bangalore, days of rain before the match subverted whatever plan the groundsman had, and much more rain during the game allowed only one day’s play.

That left the debate in limbo on the field but not in India’s dens of discourse, where you can talk about anything you like as long as that anything is cricket.

Makarand Waingankar, who holds a doctorate in the history of Mumbai cricket, has been writing on the game for more than 40 years and used to head the Baroda Cricket comes down to skill levels.”

Jones’s philosophy is not that far off the way Mitchell approaches the game, but imposing a certain style on a coach might be a hard sell. Smal is not concerned. “I don’t believe it will be a tough sell because the style and type of game we want to play is in line with approaches that are taking hold in world rugby at the moment,” he said.

“A new coach, and the type of coach we’re looking for, will be able to adapt easily.”

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