One of South African rugby’s more open secrets was confirmed on Sunday following the confirmation that Brendan Venter had joined the Springbok coaching staff.
The 47-year-old is known as one of the keenest thinkers in the game and will be in charge of the national side’s defence.
A poor defensive system was one of the main reasons why the Boks performed so poorly in head coach Allister Coetzee’s first season, winning only four out of their 12 Tests.
They conceded a record 57 points against the All Blacks in Durban last year as well as 41 in an earlier fixture.
England also put 37 points past them on the year-end tour to Europe.
Venter suddenly popped up on the South African Rugby Union’s (Saru) radar after he masterminded a historic 20-18 win for Italy over the Boks, their first ever triumph.
He was promptly handed a longer contract by the Italians, which is one of the reasons why had to patiently negotiate to bring him back to South Africa.
“We know each other well since our time together at the Stormers, and we share the same values. He will be responsible for defence and ‘exit’ strategies (kick-offs etc.),” said Coetzee.
“Brendan is passionate about Springbok rugby, and wants to help turn things around. He was part of my plans in 2016 already but, unfortunately, he was not available because of commitments elsewhere.
“We delayed confirming this appointment out of respect for Italy’s Six Nations campaign. The public delay did not interrupt our background planning.”
Springbok fans will hope that wait was worth the wait.