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'Advantage NZ' in Super Rugby coaching

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019    Getty Images

Rugby writer Rob Houwing said in sport24.co.za that the New Zealand strength of Super Rugby coaching would only be extended with Warren Gatland's return from his 13-year stint with Wales to coach the Chiefs.

Gatland, who had been coaching since 1989 when starting out as player-coach of Waikato club Taupiri, had won three Grand Slams in Europe while developing as a strategic guru with 'a vast knowledge of top-flight rugby in both hemispheres'.

"The South African situation in 2020, by stark contrast, is characterised by the unprecedented fact that three of the four franchise coaches will be marking their debuts in that capacity: Sean Everitt of the Sharks, the Stormers' John Dobson and Lions' newly-appointed Ivan van Rooyen," Houwing said.

Van Rooyen had nearly 10 years as the Lions' strength and conditioning coach and also two years as head coach of the Golden Lions in the Currie Cup. But Everitt had only one season as Sharks Currie Cup coach.

Dobson, had five years as head coach with Western Province in the Currie Cup.

The Bulls head coach Pote Human is the only survivor of the 2019 Super Rugby season and he had only been coach for one season.

"In the gnarly 60-year-old's favour, though, is that he has at least been involved in professional coaching since 1996, when he first grabbed the job at the Griffons: he has also been at Loftus in many capacities over several years and sports three years in Japan as forwards coach for Ricoh Black Rams (2008-10)," he said.

Compounding the coaching issue for South Africa is the fact that many players who took part in Super Rugby in 2019 for the country have decided to move overseas.

"The hope in the corridors of SA Rugby will be that all of the trio bring some bright, fresh ideas into play as the country seeks, perhaps a little against the odds, to bring the Super Rugby title back to these shores for the first time in a decade since the Bulls' last of three trophy triumphs," he said.

"Length of CV, of course, is no guarantee of stellar achievement (indeed, they can be fatally tarnished in some professionals by the conspicuous presence of hot air).

"But it can be a useful ally, and if so it is already 'advantage NZ' in a broad sense for Super Rugby 2020," he said.