"He's probably said the same thing to Cheslin Kolbe" - Zebo explains how Erasmus gets backs' buy-in
Simon Zebo says that Rassie Erasmus has a knack of making his players feel 'a million bucks.'
Zebo, in the past, and Cheslin Kolbe, at present, could be seen as victims of Erasmus' slow, collision-dominated style of rugby but according to the Cork man, Erasmus can talk his way into players' hearts, regardless of their role in the team.
So while Zebo may have had grounds for contesting Erasmus' game-plan at Munster, on the basis that it curbed his influence on the game, there was something about the manager's way of spinning things that always kept him on side.
Erasmus used give Zebo free-reign whenever the ball came his way and the 33-year-old reckons he's deploying the same tactics now with flying winger Cheslin Kolbe.
"I loved working with Rassie, and Jacques (Nienebar) too," says the BoyleSports ambassador.
"He was a fabulous coach," adds Zebo.
"I loved his mind-set, we'd never seen anyone speak so directly and honesty, with what coaches were thinking, about the organisation itself, why people were getting selected, why not. I'd never seen it in Munster rugby through all the coaches I had."
"Then from a personal point of view, how to get each player motivated, and to bring the best out of them.
"If he thought you weren't adding to the group or were poisonous, he'd call you out in front of everyone. No grey area. Black and white. He was really good. He got my personality and understood me."
Some feel that Erasmus' game-plan is too rigid, but Zebo says that the 50-year-old has a way of making everyone buy in.
And so when he took over South Africa, Zebo knew that big things were coming.
"I don't think he needs a plan B because he's so good at getting every player on board. So it's Plan A all the way. And everyone buys into it.
"Some of the athletes he has now, to buy into it is frightening. Maybe we didn't have men as big to impose that game-plan.
"We always knew that when he was taking over South Africa, that he'd be in a final or lifting it. It's not just one thing.
"It's incredible to watch him operate. He is one of the best in the business."
And while many focus on his 'Bomb squad' tactics with the forwards, Zebo says that the trust he places in his backs doesn't go un-noticed. Comparisons could be drawn, for example, between Zebo's role in the past and that of Cheslin Kolbe now.
"Rassie has a way with words too. He'd make you feel a million bucks.
"I had a meeting with him early doors and he knew probably that the forward-orientated game-plan wouldn't mean I'd be getting loads of ball.
"But he'd give you confidence and freedom and a licence to almost say you can do whatever you want.
"So while the kicking and the scrums and mauls were going on, and they'd annoy us, he'd never give out to me skill-wise, he had a couple of players, he's probably said the same thing to Cheslin Kolbe 'when you get the ball, just do what you do.' He knows how to bring the best out of players."