SA Rugby announced on Saturday that manager Jacques Nienaber will leave the Springboks to join Leinster following the Rugby World Cup.
The news shocked many, as Nienaber was expected to retain the role following the tournament in France.
However, Planet Rugby is looking ahead and highlighting potential replacements for the famed head coach.
Let’s start with the obvious one; a return of the former head coach to the role is certainly an option and a security. Erasmus could combine his responsibilities as director of rugby with his role as head coach as he did between 2018 and 2019.
Erasmus’s current contract expires in 2025 and SA Rugby is likely to try to extend his stay. This could buy him some time to find a permanent replacement for the head coaching role before the next World Cup in 2027 or even mentor a replacement to the current coaching squad.
A trainer the Springboks followed to become head coach, Stick joined the Test set under former head coach Allister Coetzee.
He is highly regarded in the current coaching team and took charge of South Africa ‘A’ in November.
Stick will step up to the head coaching role at some point, whether with the Springboks or not.
If Erasmus takes over in the meantime, Stick could learn his trade before taking on the role in 2025 or 2028.
Dobson delivered the Stormers’ first title in 2022 and will be a leading candidate to replace Nienaber.
He has a contract with the Stormers until 2027, and while they don’t want to lose their head coach, the cash-strapped union may not have a choice.
The beloved trainer would be a popular choice with the public and is a charming character.
He will no doubt be tied to the role until Nienaber’s successor is announced.
There were calls for Ackermann to take the reins during Coetzee’s test results with the Springboks before Erasmus took over.
He led the Johannesburg side to Super Rugby promotion and two finals during his five-year tenure.
He went on to spend two and a half seasons at Gloucester with mixed success and is currently coaching in Japan.
His move to Japan has probably hurt his chances of filling the role now, but he could return to South Africa with a point to prove.
Another member of the current coaching staff and one who has been tipped to take on the role in the future.
Davids impressed with the Southern Kings in Super Rugby and joined the Springboks coaching staff following the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
He is currently the forwards coach of the team. He is certainly an option for the Springboks but he would not be seen as a major candidate.
John van Graan
A man familiar with Springboks systems, Van Graan was an assistant coach under former coaches, Heyneke Meyer and Coetzee.
When Erasmus took charge of the Springboks in 2018 he recommended Van Graan as his replacement at Munster.
Like Ackermann, Van Graan had mixed fortunes abroad and, although things did not go well in his first season at Bath, he was called upon to completely rebuild the team.
It is clear that Erasmus holds him in high regard and he could be one of the candidates he speaks to for the role.
A real requiem for the role, Nhleko is only working his way up the ranks but impressed during his time as head coach of the Junior Springboks.
His success with the team earned him a position in the South Africa ‘A’ coaching team last year.
It would be a surprising move by SA Rugby to appoint the young up-and-comer, but Nienaber’s departure also came as a shock.
South Africa have never had a foreign head coach, and while the likes of Joe Schmidt, Dave Rennie and more will be available next year, we doubt anyone would get a glimpse of the role.
Glasgow Warriors and former Italy head coach Franco Smith worked with the Springboks before Erasmus took over. He could make a comeback, but that’s unlikely.
Former Lions coach Swys de Bruin is unlikely to return to a professional education, while outside of the Stormers, the current coaches of United Rugby Championship sides don’t appear to fit the mould.
Neil Powell had incredible success with the South African sevens squad but is still proving himself in the XV game with the Sharks. Ivan van Rooyen isn’t expected to be in the mix either, while Jake White is comfortable at the Bulls and is unlikely to want to get the job back.
TO KNOW MORE: Jacques Nienaber will step down as head coach to join Leinster following the Rugby World Cup
The article Springboks: who could replace Jacques Nienaber after the Rugby World Cup? first appeared on Planetrugby.com.