Rob Walter, the current South African conditioning coach, will take charge of Titans on a two-year contract. Walter succeeds Matthew Maynard, who opted not to renew his contract in order to work on his late son, Tom's foundation.
Walter will remain with the national team for the Champions Trophy and will take charge of his new post on July 1. His first assignment will be the Champions League T20 in India in September.
This is Walter's first coaching job, although he has previously been involved as an assistant with the same union under Dave Nosworthy. He was selected over 19 other applicants, including former Australian bowling coach, Craig Mcdermott, Zimbabwe batting coach, Grant Flower and former Titans' coach, Richard Pybus.
Walter has been South Africa's fitness trainer for six years and, more recently, doubled up as the fielding coach as well. He has also worked with Delhi Daredevils and Pune Warriors. He had applied for the Titans post two years ago, when Maynard got the job, and the franchise decided the time was right to appoint Walter now.
"When we analysed it then, there was not much between Matthew and Rob, but Matthew's international experience just pipped Rob," Vincent Sinovich, Titans chairman said. "Rob was shortlisted and he was definitely in the front row. This time we went with him."
Much will be expected of Walter, especially at the franchise which has been the most successful in the country since the system was put in place in the 2004-05 season. Titans have won nine trophies in as many years but went without silverware last summer.
They finished last in the first-class competition, which they were defending, but ended runners-up in the twenty-over tournament to somewhat rectify a tough period. They also suffered several player losses, including that of fast-bowler Hardus Viljoen, who joined the Lions.
Walter's first task will be to ensure the player base is solid enough to challenge for honours again but Jacques Faul, Titans CEO, said the administration will not place too much pressure on their new coach. "It's tough to expect him to have trophies in year one, but we will sit down with him in terms of a performance contract and agreement," he said. "Obviously, we would like to be in the CLT20."
His biggest challenge in getting that right will be to address the more technical aspects of the game. Having never played or coached, Walter may have to call on specialists to work in the various departments, although he is also studying towards his Level 4 qualification.
One of the specialists he could call on could be Gary Kirsten, who recently resigned from the South African job and has worked extensively with Walter. Faul also hinted that national bowling coach, Allan Donald could be used as a consultant as well. "We will look at people to help him but I think he will develop as a technical coach," Faul said.
Titans' captain Henry Davids, who has played for South Africa's T20 team, is optimistic that the experience Walter has gained from being part of the senior squad will over-ride his lack of expertise in other areas. "I've worked with him in the T20 squad and he has been doing a lot of hard yards, throwing balls to players and that kind of thing - just learning," he said.
But there is more to modern-day coaching than simply teaching cover drives and Davids believes Walter's man management will be key to the franchise's success. "You have to have to know what makes players tick on the day and how to handle them. It's the small things. It's up to the players to win matches, but it's for the coach to get the whole squad into a good frame of mind. I'm sure he will do that," Davids said.