Coetzee denies talk was heated

Springbok coach, Allister Coetzee
Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

He and Alexander discussed recovery plan, says beleaguered coach

Heated questions yesterday threatened to break the autumn chill as the Springboks started their preparations for Saturday’s test against France.

A belligerent Allister Coetzee countered that the exchange between him and SA Rugby president Mark Alexander reported on Sunday after the Springboks’ defeat against Ireland on Saturday was constructive and not heated.

TimesLIVE reported from South Africa that the tete a tete occurred in the emotional aftermath of another embarrassing defeat for the Boks‚ but Coetzee‚ while not denying the conversation‚ disputed the alleged tone in which it occurred.

“Let me put this meeting into context‚” he said.

“It was actually a very productive meeting. Everyone is obviously disappointed after a game.

“We spoke about how we are going to turn it around‚ the next week.

“I don’t know your source or where you get that from.

“Make sure with him‚ it is definitely not the case.

“We had a chat about personnel‚ the plan and just keeping him up to date about how we prepared. It was a really productive meeting.

“[It was] definitely not heated. Guys‚ you know me. I don’t mince my words either and if it was heated I would have told you.”

Alexander also denied they had had a heated exchange.

Perhaps the meeting was as “productive” as disagreeing foreign ministers have “constructive dialogue”‚ but the fact is Coetzee is under near-intolerable scrutiny.

“There is always pressure on the coach if he doesn’t win‚” he said.

“That’s the nature of the beast. This has been a better season for me in that I can see the growth of the team.”

When asked if there was the danger of him transferring the pressure he was feeling onto his players, Coetzee was deliberately succinct.

“We just have to focus on our plan. As long as there is a plan I can handle any pressure.”

He also claimed to be in possession of a plan for when assistant coach Johan van Graan says goodbye before leaving for Munster on Sunday‚ and when consultant Brendan Venter‚ who has contractual obligations to Italian rugby‚ will reserve his input next week.

“We’ll have to share the work. I think there is a good plan on the table already‚” the coach said, without going into detail.

He was, however, full of minutiae in breaking down last Saturday’s defeat.

Under-the-cosh coaches would much rather espouse the virtues of the high ball‚ than grasp the reality facing them.

France yesterday remembered their fallen in acts of terrorism‚ and the Boks since arriving here have, for very different reasons‚ been heads-bowed and contemplative.

Coetzee, though, believes in their ability to bounce back.

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