SA Rugby announced on Tuesday that Stick will be the head coach of the SA ‘A’ team for their November 10 match against Munster at Thomond Park and November 17 match against Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate.
Erasmus will “supervis” the coaching staff, which will feature a number of younger mentors such as Bafana Nhleko, Sharks Currie Cup coach Joey Mongalo, and Wian du Preez, Griquas scrum coach.
Within three weeks, the Bok and SA ‘A’ squads will be announced, and on November 5, the Test team will face Ireland in Dublin.
“The SA ‘A’ matches will have multiple benefits for South African Rugby as it will allow some of our top up-and-coming coaches to be exposed to high-level rugby at senior level in a national team setup, while also allowing us to continue building our player base in preparation for the Rugby World Cup,” Erasmus stated on Tuesday.
This season alone, we used over 50 players in our Test matches, which is great because one of the pillars of the Springboks is to build squad depth. However, with limited playing opportunities for several players and the fact that we lost a crucial year to build our squad due to the Covid-19 pandemic, these matches will be crucial.
Erasmus, a former Director of Rugby at Munster, will be familiar with their qualities as they carve a new path under new coach Graham Rowntree, who has replaced South African Johann van Graan at English club Bath.
But for Stick, it will be about nurturing the next generation, especially in light of the unfortunate injuries that have plagued the team in the lead-up to next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Consequently, some United Rugby Championship stars, such as Manie Libbok, Evan Roos, and Johan Grobbelaar, could be in the running for South Africa ‘A’.
In addition to the match against Ireland, the Boks will play France, Italy, and England on consecutive weekends in November.
“Playing for the SA ‘A’ team is the closest one can get to playing for the Springboks, and we believe these matches will give us a good idea of the coaches and young players within our ranks, as well as giving some experienced players the chance to return from injury and get back into form as they compete for Rugby World Cup spots,” Erasmus said.
“Munster are famous as Irish rugby heavyweights, and as we saw in the United Rugby Championship, they will push the team to its limits.
“We anticipate Bristol to play more of a running game, especially with former New Zealand junior and club player and Auckland Blues head coach Pat Lam influencing their style of play.
These matches will be difficult, which is exactly what we want with less than a year till the Rugby World Cup.
SA ‘A’ team management
Mzwandile Stick is the coach
Bafana Nhleko, Joey Mongalo, and Wian du Preez served as assistant coaches.
Analyst of technology: Willie Maree
Manager of operations: Zintsika Tashe
Manager of logistics: Barry McDonald
Team doctor: Clement Plaatjies
The physiotherapist’s name is Lance Lemmetjies
Johan van Wyk serves as a conditioning coach.