Carel keeps his cards close

It seems the potential Springbok assistant coaches have taken a vow of silence, with Carel du Plessis the latest to brush off suggestions that he was a strong contender.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers told keo.co.za’s Jon Cardinelli media reports that Du Plessis and Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske had the inside lane for the positions were “a lie”, insisting that the best candidate would be selected after a fair process.

Du Plessis has coached Western Province, was an assistant coach at the Stormers and was head coach in the Springboks’ 2-1 home defeat to the British Lions in 1997, before suffering record defeats to Australia and New Zealand in the Tri-Nations.

He left rugby in acrimonious fashion, refusing a package of R160 000 , instead suing Sarfu (now Saru) for an amount reported to be close to R2 million for what he believed was breach of a verbal agreement that he would stay in the job until after the 1999 World Cup.

Now the “Prince of Wings”, so dubbed from his days as a flyer for WP, is one of the leading contenders to replace Allister Coetzee as the backline coach. Du Plessis, however, refused to talk about the issue.

“I don’t want to go into that. There have been reports that I’ll be involved with the Boks again but they’re pure speculation,” Du Plessis told keo.co.za.

“Nobody at SA Rugby has approached me yet. There’s been no interaction between myself and them and until that happens I’ll rather not be talking about something that may or may not transpire.”

If Du Plessis were to get the job, there would be some serious and legitimate questions around whether his absence from top flight rugby would result in him being well off the pace as far as developments in attacking play are concerned. Du Plessis was equally non-committal here.

“People can say what they want, they’re entitled to their views,” the 47-year-old property developer said bluntly.

The positions are expected to be advertised in the national press by the end of this week after which a selection panel (including de Villiers) will assess the shortlisted candidates and make a final decision. The process is expected to conclude in a fortnight.

By Ryan Vrede