September 26, 2017 / 8:52 PM / 10 months ago

Rugby - Springboks Rhule dropped after coach u-turn

BLOEMFONTEIN (Reuters) - South Africa dropped Raymond Rhule from their squad on Tuesday, a day after coach Allister Coetzee said the underfire winger would not be ditched following a poor performance against New Zealand earlier this month.

Rugby Union - South Africa v Argentina - Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa - August 19, 2017 - South Africa's Raymond Rhule runs with the ball. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

The Ghana-born back missed nine tackles in the record 57-0 thrashing at the hands of the All Blacks and had been the subject of much criticism from South Africa supporters.

Coetzee said on Monday he would keep faith with the 24-year-old for Saturday’s penultimate match in this year’s Rugby Championship against Australia in Bloemfontein.

The Springboks, however, announced some 24 hours later that Rhule would be going back to the Cheetahs for their PRO-14 match with Welsh club Ospreys in Bloemfontein on Friday, without giving an explanation for the u-turn.

“I’m not a coach who will look at one poor performance and chuck someone away,” Coetzee had told a news conference on Monday.

Dan du Preez and S’busiso Nkosi were also released to rejoin the Sharks for Currie Cup action at the weekend, officials said. South Africa continued their preparations for the test on Tuesday by working on a strategy to prioritise and protect possession against the Wallabies.

Springbok backline coach Franco Smith said an analysis of their heavy loss in New Zealand showed they needed to be better when it comes to holding onto the ball.

“To turn it around, we have to ensure we are a factor with ball in hand. We have to re-establish our general shape on attack, and to give ourselves the best chances to score by looking after possession, and then we need to convert our opportunities with that try-scoring mentality,” he told a news conference.

South Africa, who are second in the Rugby Championship table having also won twice against Argentina and drawn with Australia, will name their matchday 23 on Thursday.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis

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