Stick doubted himself after being dropped

SA assistant coach speaks about devastating demotion – and of honour to be back with Boks

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick, seen here in action at a national team training session in 2016, says his demotion last year by Allister Coetzee gave him ‘a huge punch’
Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick, seen here in action at a national team training session in 2016, says his demotion last year by Allister Coetzee gave him ‘a huge punch’
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick has revealed that his controversial demotion from former Bok coach Allister Coetzee’s technical staff last year was so devastating that he started to doubt himself.

Stick was appointed as Coetzee’s backline assistant coach in 2016 but was demoted to the Junior Boks a year later after the Springboks’ poor international season.

The decision raised eyebrows and many observers said Stick was used as a scapegoat and unfairly blamed for the team’s numerous shortcomings. Stick said the demotion “gave me a huge punch”. “At that stage of my career as a coach‚ things were looking up‚” he said.

“[But] that situation gave me a huge punch and I kept on asking myself questions [on] whether I was good enough. I doubted myself‚” he said.

“You understand South Africa very well – we have so many challenges we are facing in the country and I knew the day I signed to become a coach that there were going to be many challenges.

“I knew there would be times when you go through potholes.

“But at the end of the day I know my value‚ I know what I can do and what I can contribute to the team as a coach. I am a very strong character.

“Where I come from‚ every day is a struggle and you have to wake up every morning and make sure that you bring your best.

“I believe that I have what it takes and I don’t have a doubt at all about that.
“It is an honour to be back with the Springboks and to represent my country. Being away with the juniors helped me to be where I am currently.

“I am trusted by coach Rassie Erasmus‚ who is a highly experienced coach, and we speak the same language.”

That chapter of his life is the past and Stick is now focused on the Springboks’ first match of the season, against Wales at the RFK Stadium in Washington‚ US‚ on Saturday.

“I am excited by the opportunities that guys like Makazole Mapimpi‚ Travis Ismaiel and Ivan van Zyl are going to get because they have been doing well‚” he said.

“As coaches we reward players when they are on form at their teams.

“I am also excited about a youngster like Embrose Papier whom I have followed since his days at South Africa Schools – I coached him at South Africa U20.

“He is one of those X-factor players and I believe he has got what it takes to be a world-class scrumhalf in the future.”

Stick also congratulated Siya Kolisi after his appointment this week as Springbok captain for the three test matches against England next month. – TimesLIVE

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