Elton Jantjies. Picture: BACKPAGEPIX
Elton Jantjies. Picture: BACKPAGEPIX

Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick and flyhalf Elton Jantjies took a swipe at the previous Springbok set-up when they pointed out how much the camp had changed for the better under new boss Rassie Erasmus.

Previous coach Allister Coetzee was sacked six months ago after two years of record defeats‚ muddled game plans and a poor transformation record.

In his first series in charge Erasmus has guided the Boks to a 2-0 home win over England, with the third Test at Newlands on Saturday. He has also appointed the first black Springbok Test captain and met his transformation targets.

Stick was the Bok backline coach in 2016‚ an appointment that Coetzee did not endorse.

After spending much of the year as a peripheral figure‚ Stick was axed at the end of a season in which the Boks lost eight of 12 Tests. How Stick was the only staff member to lose his job after such a poor year remains one of rugby’s great mysteries.

Jantjies‚ who was first-choice flyhalf under Coetzee while Handré Pollard was injured‚ believes that the culture is now more positive than before. "I think it [the positive attitude] comes down from the top‚" Jantjies said. "If the coach’s mindset is a certain way obviously it influences the other management group‚ the medical team and the playing group.

Mzwandile Stick. Picture: SUPPLIED
Mzwandile Stick. Picture: SUPPLIED

"That’s something that I’ve picked up and that we’ve picked up as a group. It comes from the boss straight down to the last player. Everyone has got the same mindset and work ethic‚ and everybody just wants to achieve something," he said.

"That’s something you will see off the field; this group looks happy and they’re enjoying rugby and that’s something that comes from the boss."

Stick praised Erasmus’s honesty and willingness to meet the sometimes delicate issue of transformation head on.

"We live in a unique country and to have someone like Rassie who doesn’t shy away from the challenges that we’re facing is great‚" Stick said. "He’s a very honest guy and doesn’t play hide and seek about stuff. I remember the first alignment camps we had with the players‚ Rassie mentioned three things to them.

"He said we had to go back to a winning culture‚ we had to transform the team and the third thing was improve the image‚ which would come after the first two were met. When the coach is honest with you and he tells you where you stand‚ the players will believe in him and make sure that when they get an opportunity they grab it with both hands‚" Stick said.

"We took 13 debutants to the US… and then we came back and had a couple more. It shows that Rassie does give players opportunities and hopefully when it comes to the team announcement on Thursday there will be more new guys."

Jantjies‚ who missed the second Test after sitting on the bench in the first Test in Johannesburg‚ said that it was a rotational move.

He looks set to feature again this weekend.