Robbie Deans runs rule over Barbarians' opponents South Africa


Coetzee backed to transform South Africa

Springboks have 'rare cluster of talent'

Le Roux, De Allende and Kriel highlighted

Allister Coetzee is equipped to lead South Africa’s transformation on and off the field, according to Barbarians Head Coach Robbie Deans.

The Springboks take the field for the first time under Coetzee when they start their three-Test series against Ireland in Cape Town this weekend.

They will touch down in London later this year to launch their autumn tour against the Barbarians in the Killik Cup match at Wembley on November 5.

Deans will be monitoring their progress over the next four months as he assembles the squad to face South Africa in London before travelling to take on Fiji at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast on November 11.

He is backing Coetzee, who succeeded Heyneke Meyer after a third-place finish at the 2015 World Cup, to unlock the Springboks' potential as well as handle the demands of government transformation targets for the racial mix of the team.

“Allister is a good man, he's very experienced and he knows the terrain, and those are the critical ingredients,” said Deans.

"He understands the [transformation] demands. One of his big priorities will be to manage that. He recognises it, knows that it’s a priority. You’ve got to work with those interested parties and cater for everyone’s needs.

"South Africa are just waiting for someone to bring them together, get some alignment and bring them to life because they are in the top three in the world routinely, regardless of the quality of their preparation."

Robbie Deans

Former Crusaders and Australia boss Deans believes the combination of high-quality players and a change of playing style by Super Rugby franchises like the Lions and Cheetahs will feed through into the international side.

He said: "Back division-wise they’ve got a rare cluster of talent. They have to use it unless they’re happy being No.3 or No.2 forever - and they won’t be because this group of players will be ambitious. They’ve been close enough for long enough. They’ll want more.

"If you look at the game that the franchises are playing, they’re broadening their approach and that will come through to the national level in time with the increased number of touches they are getting at Super Rugby level.

"They have been going that way for a while and they have a generation of talent that’s quite scary. Their threshold could be very high. It takes a philosophical shift in the way they prepare and play, but that’s happened.

“That’s important because it's very difficult to chase the bus at international level. Your players arrive and most of the preparation is done so it’s difficult to change the way a national team plays significantly from the day-to-day experience of club rugby.”

Centres Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel, and full back Willie Le Roux are three of the back line talents ready to be unleashed against Ireland and who the Barbarians may have to pin down when they come together under Deans and assistant coach Will Greenwood in London.

"I’ve watched from a distance the emergence of Damian de Allende and more closely in Japan,” said Deans, who coached Panasonic Wild Knights to successive Top League titles in 2015 and 2016.

"He’s clearly a bloke who has the potential to be world class. Kriel outside him likewise. Athletically he’s as good as anyone. Willie Le Roux was also in Japan last year and he’s a rare talent. 

“Le Roux’s got anticipation that I haven’t seen in many players: he reads body language earlier and better than most and he’s quick, so he’s got a great ability to arrive in the right place in attack and also in defence. There’s a lot of attacking potential in that group."