Johannesburg (AFP) - In a bid to rebuild from a disastrous 2016 South Africa appointed former centre Brendan Venter as defence coach on Sunday giving him two months to prepare for a three-Test home series against France in June.
A South African Rugby statement said the 47-year-old will be involved in a three-day preparation camp, which began Sunday in western Cape university town Stellenbosch.
Venter replaces JP Ferreira, one of several defence coaches used during 2016 when the Springboks lost eight of 12 Tests under Allister Coetzee, a calendar year record for the "green and gold".
A 57-15 loss to greatest rivals New Zealand in Durban was the heaviest suffered at home by South Africa.
They also lost to Italy, at home to Ireland and away to Argentina for the first time.
Rugby officials gave Coetzee a vote of confidence early this year amid widespread public and media calls for his dismissal.
But Ferreira and attack coach Mzwandile Stick were dumped with Franco Smith from Super Rugby outfit the Central Cheetahs replacing the latter.
"Brendan and I know each other well since our time together at the Western Stormers and share the same values," said Coetzee.
"He is passionate about Springbok rugby and wants to help turn things around.
"Brendan was part of my plans in 2016 but, unfortunately, was not available because of commitments elsewhere."
Venter was part of the 1995 Rugby World Cup-winning squad and played 17 Tests and nine tour matches for the Springboks.
A qualified doctor, his coaching career included spells with English Premiership outfits London Irish and Saracens and Super Rugby franchises Coastal Sharks and Stormers in various roles.
He was the defence coach of Italy in the Six Nations championship this year, a role which delayed his appointment to the Springboks.