Erasmus reveals South Africa 'A' coaching team

NEWS: Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick will take charge of the South Africa ‘A’ team for their two matches in the UK against Munster and the Bristol Bears in November, in a coaching team which features SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and three assistant coaches.

Junior Springbok coach Bafana Nhleko, Sharks coach Joey Mongalo and Griquas scrum coach Wian du Preez will assist Stick, while Erasmus will oversee the coaching.

The SA ‘A’ team will face Munster on Thursday, November 10, and the Bristol Bears a week later on November 17.

With the Springboks in action against Ireland on Saturday, November 5, France on November 12, Italy on November 19 and England on November 26 on the tour, Erasmus and Stick will split their duties between the two teams.

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Erasmus said while winning the Springbok Test matches was the top priority, the SA ‘A’ team played an equally important role in player and coach development as the Boks gear up for the Rugby World Cup in France next year.

"The SA ‘A’ matches will have multiple benefits for SA Rugby as it will open the door for some of our top up-and-coming coaches to be exposed to high-level rugby at senior level in a national team set-up, while at the same time allowing us to continue building our player base as look ahead to the Rugby World Cup," said Erasmus.

"This season alone we used over 50 players in our Test matches, which is fantastic as one of our core pillars in the Springbok team is to build squad depth, but with limited playing opportunities for several players and the fact that we lost out on a vital year to build our squad due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these matches will be crucial."

Erasmus added: "The closest one can get to playing for the Springboks is the SA ‘A’ team, and we believe these matches will give us a good idea of the coaches and young players within our ranks as well as offering some experienced players the opportunity to return from injury and get back to form as they contest for places with an eye on Rugby World Cup spots."

Commenting on SA ‘A’ team opposition, Erasmus said: "Munster are renowned for their status as Irish rugby giants, and as we have seen in the United Rugby Championship, they will test the team to the limit.

"We expect Bristol to play more of a running game, especially with Pat Lam – a former New Zealand junior and club player, and Auckland Blues coach – influencing their style of play.

"These are going to be challenging matches, which is exactly what we want less than a year out from the Rugby World Cup.”

The Springbok and SA ‘A’ squads will be announced within the next three weeks.

SA ‘A’ team management:

Head coach: Mzwandile Stick

Assistant coaches: Bafana Nhleko, Joey Mongalo, Wian du Preez

Technical analyst: Willie Maree

Operations manager: Zintsika Tashe

Logistics manager: Barry McDonald

Team doctor: Clement Plaatjies

Physiotherapist: Lance Lemmetjies

Conditioning coach: Johan van Wyk