Dobbo’s dream coaching team

PUBLISHED: February 23, 2024

DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson pays tribute to his Assistant Coaches Dawie Snyman, Rito Hlungwani and Norman Laker, who all bring something unique to the team environment.

The best thing about the DHL Stormers coaching environment, and I think everything emanates from there, is the tightness of the coaching staff.

There are coaches who like to refresh their coaching staff and I understand the logic of that, but I think if you have high levels of trust – trust that the guy is just trying to get better, is doing everything for the team, he’s on top of his game technically, he doesn’t want your job – then you’ve got a good thing.

And if you’re friends and enjoy each other’s company, it makes it very special. When the team senses the unity of the coaching staff it helps towards the unity of the team. We’ve got a fantastic group of coaches.

Dawie Snyman is probably the lead coach, and I’ve worked with him going on 14 years. He’s a phenomenal thinker about rugby. If you see him in training, he’s just so passionate and like Norman is probably running as much as the players.

He’s a rugby genius and he comes from a family of those. He’s got a great sense of humour and the players love him – his drinking song when the players make him drink is ‘Dawie Snyman is magic’, and for players to sing that about a coach is special. He’s my right hand.

It’s nice to have different personalities but there’s no personality in the world like Norman Laker, it doesn’t exist. If there are, that person is institutionalised.

He lives, breathes and eats defence. Wonderful character, sense of humour, rough as can be and worse ADD than I’ve got. He’s obsessed with defence. A great coach and great human being. I think he’s one of the best defence coaches in the world.

He’s not trying to run the team, he just wants our defence to be as good as it can be and he takes so much pride in it. A wonderful coach.

Then you’ve got Rito Hlungwani who is exceptional. He’s known for his piercing eyes and his really motivational team talks to the forwards.

He’s got a vision for this pack that is quite powerful. He wins the respect of the players through his work ethic and attention to detail. He’s a very serious guy, very direct, and he isn’t swayed by the court of public opinion. And he’s a very good modern coach in that he’s very cooperative.

He’s been coaching a couple of World Cup winners over the last while, and he came in as a young coach from DHL Western Province U19 to coaching Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff.

And he’s had to do the hard yards, training up Ruben van Heerden to take over from marvellous Marvin Orie. The problem with the line-out and maul is that you get a very obvious scorecard in-game, whereas the attack and defence departments are only really analysed after the game.

As a quantity surveyor, Rito doesn’t mind that brutal measurement, but it is brutal. He’s a very powerful fellow and I’m very excited about his future.