The Springboks coaching team took a hit earlier this month when attack coach Swys de Bruin left the set-up due to personal and medical reasons, having made a significant contribution as the side’s attack coach.
Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus described the departure of the Lions head coach as a “big loss” and that the Springboks would shortly be announcing a short-term hire to fill the void left. Although the name of that successor was widely tipped over the last couple of weeks, the exact role he is taking on has come as a bit of a surprise.
The South Africa Rugby Union has confirmed on Wednesday that former Munster player and coach Felix Jones will be joining the Springbok coaching team as a defence consultant, not as an attack and backs coach, the areas of expertise where he earned his stripes at the Irish province.
Ex-Ireland full-back Jones, 32, has been a free agent since he left Munster in June following three seasons on their coaching staff as well as six years with the province as a player. Erasmus knows Jones well from his time coaching the two-time European champions, stating: “Felix will bring a fresh eye to our analysis and planning and I am looking forward to his input.
“I spoke to the players after Swys decided to step down and the consensus was that we didn’t want a new attack coach,” explained Erasmus. “The feeling was that bringing in someone in that role now with new ideas now would be destabilising at this last stage of the preparations.
BREAKING: Jones joins Boks as Erasmus completes coaching team for #RWC2019. ???
“But they were interested in having more analysis of defensive patterns and structures to assist in breaking down the opposition. Felix will bring a fresh eye to our analysis and planning and I’m looking forward to his input. He is a real student of the game and I believe the players will benefit from his contribution.”
Jones spent two seasons working with Erasmus before the South African left the Irish province for his current role with the Springboks and the South African boss clearly appreciates the qualities that Jones brings as a young coach.
ICYMI – Meet the 31 men that will carry the hopes of 60 million South Africans. Join us at OR Tambo’s International Departures at 10:30am on Friday morning as we send the boys off to Japan in style. #StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/giB2KM8mXs
The Irishman will join up with Jacques Nienaber (defence) in the Springboks coaching team, another man who he knows well from his time at Munster, whilst Matt Proudfoot (forwards) and Mzwandile Stick (off the ball) make up the rest of the group.
The Springboks, who announced their 31-man World Cup squad on Monday, have one last warm-up game – against Japan on September 6 – before they begin their finals campaign against New Zealand on September 21 in Yokohama.
WATCH: The RugbyPass stadium guide to Yokohama where the Springboks will take on the All Blacks
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