Rassie Erasmus's impact, or lack thereof, on the Bok squad will be evident over the next couple of months.
By the conclusion of the World Cup, Erasmus would've had more than four months to work with the entire Bok squad and management. He'll have had full licence to impart his technical insight, and then we'll be able to gauge what sort of weight Erasmus has, or whether his coaching value is a myth.
What was clear from Saturday's disastrous, if flattering 39-20 loss to the Wallabies, is that Erasmus has much work to do. Many say it's only a 'B' team, but Erasmus worked with that group for two weeks in South Africa before departing for Australasia, and nothing has changed in the Bok game.
Some have claimed Erasmus had a patent effect on the 2007 World Cup-winning team in the few weeks he was with the team. In a couple of weeks with the B side, there was no difference – even with defence coach Jacques Nienaber also there.
There's no doubting Erasmus's technical nous and it's clear he'll be influential. But whether that influence is in a positive or negative manner will become clearer once the first-choice players play. Erasmus acknowledges player-management isn't one of his strong suits, which is a vital ingredient in a South African context. It's also been clear some players at the Stormers haven't got along with him.
So while he coaches the A-side at a training camp in Rustenberg, whether they trust him and have the faith to implement his ideas will be interesting. The same senior players he'll be looking after while Peter de Villiers and John Smit are away with the dirt-trackers, will be all the individuals who came up with the Bok game-plan. Telling them to change it might not go down so well.
Smit was also at the forefront of the Boks' dated game plan, so upon his return most of what he's proposed over the past will be questioned. Add in the personalities of De Villiers, the Bok assistants, Erasmus and the senior players, and a complex dynamic evolves.
Smit's role as mediator will again be crucial – unfair on a captain who's out of form and should be focusing on securing his own spot in the team rather than worrying about other dynamics. De Villiers's ego will again be tested. When it became clear that the players were running the side early in his tenure, De Villiers reacted by claiming there was no trust within the coaching ranks and tried to fire them.
When Erasmus gives the players or De Villiers suggestions, how will the Bok coach take those? When others receive credit, how will De Villiers's ego react?
In 2007, set systems and structures were in place for minor changes to be made to the Bok game by an individual. Eddie Jones did this on attack with their multitude of dummy runners and options, as well as his impact on the Bok halfbacks, Fourie du Preez and Butch James, and how they varied their game. Importantly, Jones added to the team dynamic in a positive manner due to his affable nature and experience.
Will Erasmus do the same?
Erasmus has been brought in to do an ambulance job. It's early days yet, but by the conclusion of the World Cup, we'll know whether Erasmus has the tactical insight and personality to win over the side and improve their game.
Erasmus's addition is positive from a technical aspect looking at what the current Bok management side have produced in three years. But there will be interesting times ahead behind closed doors in the Bok camp.
By Grant Ball
Follow Grant Ball on Twitter; @granted123
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