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Ex-England coach Matt Proudfoot in line for Lions role in South Africa

By Chris Jones
World Cup winner Matt Proudfoot at work on the Springboks scrum (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Matt Proudfoot, who quit as England forwards coach, is one of the names in the hat to become the Lions’ new forwards coach at the South African franchise.

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The Lions are looking for a new forwards coach after Albert van den Berg opted not to renew his contract with the Johannesburg based outfit last month. The Lions completed their United Rugby Championship campaign with a 50 percent success rate, nine wins from 18 starts and ninth place on the standings, three points below the eight-placed Sharks.

According to Afrikaans newspaper Rapport, Proudfoot, who has been coaching Maties – the rugby club of Stellenbosch University – along with former Lions skipper Warren Whiteley and ex-Springbok prop Wessel Roux are the frontrunners. Proudfoot was a member of the Springbok World Cup winning coaching team in 2019 and was brought on board in the same role by Eddie Jones when he was head coach of England.

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The South Africa-born 51-year-old former Scotland international, took on the England forwards role in January 2020 after Neal Hatley left to join Bath. However, with Steve Borthwick replacing Jones, Proudfoot opted to head back to South Africa in January and joined Maties having previously been an assistant to Allister Coetzee at the Stormers and Western Province for almost eight years. When appointing Proudfoot, Maties said he was a “consultant head coach” for the “duration” of this year’s campaign.

The report in the South African media said Whiteley, currently an assistant coach at the Sharks, is likely to face opposition from his current employers over a contract release. Roux appears to be the early favourite for the position as he is already part of the Lions’ coaching structures.

Van den Berg, a former Springbok lock, was left disillusioned after launching legal action against fellow colleague Chris Venter, who allegedly accessed private messages on his laptop.

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