Bok legends: Swys 'setback' provides new opportunity
Cape Town - The news that attack coach Swys de Bruin has left the Springbok camp just over a month out from the 2019 World Cup is a setback to the national side, says former captain Jean de Villiers.
De Villiers was speaking at a Laureus Sport for Good function at the Southern Sun in Newlands on Wednesday morning, and while he said the news of De Bruin's departure would certainly impact the Bok squad, he added that it was an opportunity for other individuals in the set-up to stand up and be counted.
The positives of this Bok team, De Villiers said, were encouraging enough for the De Bruin news to be a mere "blip" in preparations.
De Bruin has a history of suffering from stress-related illness that saw him leave the Lions' tour of Australasia during the 2019 Super Rugby season.
The SA Rugby press release on Wednesday said De Bruin had made the request for "personal and medical reasons".
"It will have an effect when you lose your attack coach," De Villiers said.
"Hopefully the structures that were put in place are pretty consistent and they can just continue with that."
De Villiers added that he could already notice De Bruin's absence from the Bok performance in Salta on Saturday when they beat Argentina 46-13 to win the Rugby Championship.
"It's a big setback to the team, but sometimes you use setbacks to your advantage," De Villiers added.
"Sometimes it's an opportunity for the team and the individuals to step up and take responsibility and get through it.
"It's a bit of a blip more than the team being down and out."
2007 World Cup winner Schalk Burger, meanwhile, pointed to Springboks under Jake White ahead of that year's tournament as reason for optimism that they could recover from the De Bruin blow.
"In 2007 Rassie Erasmus was with us and he was doing a lot of our pre-season build-up when the squad was split into two groups," he recalled.
"Rassie left before the World Cup and then we brought in Eddie Jones, who made a mark on our attack. Before that we were quite one dimensional and then we got in Eddie and it was a breath of fresh air. It was a masterstroke by Jake at the time.
"It's obviously sad to see Swys not see it out in a World Cup year, but in saying that there is an opportunity to maybe get somebody involved to bring a little bit extra."
SA Rugby have confirmed that they will be naming a short-term specialist replacement for De Bruin with the World Cup in mind.
The Boks begin their campaign when they play the All Blacks on September 21 in Yokohama.