(Reuters) - Springboks attack consultant Swys de Bruin has stepped down, leaving head coach Rassie Erasmus to find a replacement just five weeks out from the Rugby World Cup.
De Bruin, the head coach of Super Rugby side Lions, asked to be released from his role for personal and health issues, South African Rugby said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Swys made a great contribution to the squad in his time with us and I’d like to thank him on behalf of his fellow management and the players he has worked with in the past 12 months,” Erasmus said.
“He brought a fresh perspective to one facet of the game and he’ll be hard to replace.”
De Bruin was not with the team since they drew 16-16 with New Zealand in Wellington last month. He played no part in their final Rugby Championship match against Argentina in Salta, SA Rugby added.
The 59-year-old de Bruin had issues earlier this year with stress-related illness that forced him to leave the Lions on their tour of New Zealand and temporarily hand over the head coaching duties.
Erasmus said de Bruin’s decision had taken him by surprise, but it would not affect their final preparations for the World Cup, with their opener against the All Blacks on Sept. 22 in Yokohama.
“This was not something we were expecting,” Erasmus said. “But our planning has been thorough and it’s something we can manage.”
The Springboks play Argentina in Pretoria on Saturday.
Writing by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly