Balie: Jake’s the man

The Springboks’ forward specialist Balie Swart is hugely impressed with Bok coach Jake White.

Swart, who has only been with the Boks for just over a week says he sees similarities in White that compare favourably with erstwhile Bok coach Kitch Christie.

Swart was part of the late Chrisite’s 1995 World Cup-winning squad and is perfectly placed to make a judgement call like that. “I’m a fresh outsider, but what I have seen is that Jake is an open coach with a democratic approach. I see some of the late Kitch Christie in Jake,” Swart said.

It is a massive compliment for White who, despite hauling the Boks from the doldrums, still comes in for a fair amount of flak from media and public alike. “There is an aura around Jake, and the players are drawn to that. He is always open and understanding. He is the right man to lead the Boks, no doubt.”

“It was very humbling and a huge honour for Jake to approach me to get involved. But now that creates expectation and I hope we are on the right track,” said Swart.

Bok captain, John Smit, heaped praise on Swart: “I’ve been lucky to have Balie at the Sharks for the past two years. He has a new approach and works with specifics. From that we are getting composure and it will help unleash our potential.”

Christie is hailed in parts as the finest Bok coach since re-admission and his record speaks for itself. Not only was he at the helm when the Boks incredibly captured the William Webb Ellis on home soil nearly 11 years’ ago, but in 14 Tests as coach of South Africa, Christie lost none.

Swart’s tenure as a consultant with the Boks lasts only another five days, but it seems his impact has been such that White may want to extend that contract for a few more months.

By Andrew Hollely, in Bloemfontein