Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus has learned from Allister Coetzee's mistakes

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus. Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

The glaringly obvious thing that stood out about Rassie Erasmus' first four games in charge is not necessarily the improvement of the Springboks' attacking play or the character they showed in the England series.

It wasn't the way they adapted to certain match situations when they went behind early in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein, or the fact that they struggled with a slippery ball in Washington, D.C. and at a horribly wet Newlands in Cape Town.

No, it was that the new boss of the Springboks had learned a few lessons from his predecessors' mistakes.

Honesty and being upfront with the media, his players and coaching staff, making it clear from the outset that transformation is non-negotiable, taking a chance on talented youngsters, and admitting to making mistakes, are some of things that have endeared Erasmus to the media and the broader public.

Certainly, the luxury of a six-year contract does give Erasmus a lot more leeway in this regard. He can also pick whoever he wants, while SA Rugby seems to be bending over backwards for the new boss. Erasmus' predecessor, Allister Coetzee, was certainly not afforded these courtesies.

Coetzee, throughout his two-year tenure, seemed as if he were always one defeat from getting the chop. There were always rumours that he would lose his job if he lost 'this match' or 'this series'. Those rumours then became worse when Erasmus was appointed director of rugby in 2017.

Coetzee, though, made more than just a few errors in judgement, especially when it came to transformation.

He stuck too long with players who just couldn't cut the mustard at Test level, and ignored form players. What made it worse is that many of those in-form players -- such as Lukhanyo Am and S'bu Nkosi -- were black and playing better than underperforming white players.

Both players got a chance to play over the past month, and they held their own against England. With another 10 or 12 Tests under the belt, they could play a major role for the Springboks at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

To be fair to Coetzee, the black players he picked didn't always perform to the best of their ability. But maybe it's because he didn't adopt the same transparency that is guiding Erasmus and the 2018 Springboks.

"We live in a very unique country and to have someone like Rassie who doesn't shy away from the challenges of the country ... he is a very honest guy," assistant coach Mzwandile Stick, who also worked under Coetzee in 2016, told the media during the England tour.

"He doesn't play hide-and-seek about stuff.

"During our alignment camps, Rassie mentioned a few things. We have to go back to a winning culture and we are going to have to transform the team. Everyone is now working in that direction.

"From my side, when the coach is honest with you and he tells you where you stand, the players will believe in you; and when they get the opportunity, they will grab it with both hands."

Yes, Erasmus has a lot of power and a contract spanning beyond the next Rugby World Cup, but he is making all the right moves and noises in the background, and was rewarded with a series win over England.

That was a great result.

Next, however, he will be expected to achieve success against New Zealand, Australia and Argentina in the Rugby Championship, and we know how difficult that can be.