Maketa a tough act to follow at Warriors

Malibongwe Maketa. Image: B-JAY PIERCEY
Malibongwe Maketa. Image: B-JAY PIERCEY

Mark Williams has known for a while what was confirmed on Thursday when Malibongwe Maketa was named South Africa’s assistant-coach.

That’s only fair on Williams‚ who as the Warriors’ chief executive has the challenge of replacing a figure who has become central to the success of a franchise that is as rich in gees and commitment as they are poor in big name players.

“The coach has had a lot to with the backbone of the side and the infrastructure behind him has been solid‚” Williams said on Friday.

Maketa took over the Eastern Cape side in February 2015‚ and guided them to the finals of both white-ball tournaments last season.

And the only Warriors player to have cracked the nod with the national selectors in that time to date has been Jon-Jon Smuts‚ who played six T20 internationals between January and June.

“In the past two seasons we’ve had a robust and meticulous way of developing the team and the way we want the team to play‚” Williams said.

“It would help if we have one or two [players] coming through earlier than we would expect‚ but I’m comfortable with the base we’ve created.

“Our coach has been honoured with the [national] assistant-coach’s position but he leaves a good squad and it’s now for me to wrestle with that.”

Williams and the Warriors don’t have to bid Maketa farewell just yet: he will keep the reins until the end of this season’s T20 competition‚ which concludes on December 16.

Maketa will be able to ease into his new job as his first engagement will be a four-day match against Zimbabwe starting on December 26.

That’s as easy as it gets at international level‚ and it won’t hurt that the game will be played at St George’s Park‚ one of the Warriors’ home grounds.

Williams would not be drawn on who might inherit the Warriors tracksuit from Maketa‚ but Piet Botha — his predecessor and currently the coach of the Eastern province team — declined to rule himself out.

“That’s to be discussed behind closed doors‚” Botha said.

Whoever lands the job will have a tough act to follow‚ not only in following a quality coach but in working out how to win with limited resources.