Jake White does not expect to be fired when he returns to South Africa for his crunch meeting with the Presidents Council on 29 November.
White will have a pow-wow with the presidents and then return to the UK for the Boks’ final tour match against the World XV. While most expect the Bok coach to be shown the door, the man himself remains defiant.
“I don’t think I’ll be fired,” White said on Boots & All. “I had a chat to [Saru president] Regan Hoskins and [vice president] Koos Basson and they suggested I fly back to South Africa to meet with the presidents and explain my plan for the tour.
“To be honest, I don’t know why they are unhappy, because I made it clear that we were using the tour to blood new players and improve our depth.
“Do they think that if I had known I was going to lose my job that I would have been dumb enough to leave so many first-choice players at home? The fact is I’ve been working closely with Professor Tim Noakes, and we agreed that the players had to be rested before the World Cup. New Zealand are resting their top All Blacks for the first half of the Super 14, and I knew I had to rest our top Boks [for the tour].”
“People are saying we’ve gone backwards, when in actual fact we’ve gone forward, because we’ve increased our pool of players ahead of the World Cup.”
When asked why he’d played so many players out of position during the tour — including Lions centre Jaco Pretorius on the wing — White responded angrily.
“Hindsight is a perfect science,” he said. “If I’d played Jaco at centre [against Ireland] and we’d lost, you’d have asked me why I didn’t play a natural centre like Bryan in the midfield.
“We know what we have in De Wet Barry and Marius Joubert — the most capped centre pairing in Bok history — and Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie. The only way I’d know if Jean and Bryan would work is to play them together on tour.
White said he had been disappointed with the tour results, and that winning mattered to him and the rest of his management team.
“Of course results are important, but we’re building towards the World Cup and that has to be the main priority. New Zealand haven’t won the World Cup since 1987. Do South Africans want to be talking about winning the World Cup for the first time since 1995, 20 years from now?
“My goal is to have the best possible XV on the field for the World Cup. I know that if I pick my No 1 side we can beat any team in the world.”