Div: Team game key
London - Peter de Villiers hopes the Springbok jersey is all the motivation his young players need to end off their tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland on a high against the Barbarians on Saturday.
“The similarity between the match against the Barbarians and any other one is the jersey in which the guys play. Irrespective of what happens, people will say that it’s the Springboks that played there. The big challenge is to deliver a performance worthy of the jersey,” said de Villiers.
“It’s a chance to give some younger players opportunities – guys like Elton Jantjies and Patrick Lambie. They have to get a chance to show that they can play at this level. Juan Smith will be surrounded by a lot of inexperienced players and that makes it a little difficult for us.”
The Springboks will train on Wednesday for the first time this week. De Villiers will also name his team then. While he does not want to reveal his hand, the early indications are that Jantjies will wear the No 10 jersey.
With Jean de Villiers injured, the Bok coach may have no other option than to ask Lambie to plug a hole at inside centre.
“Jantjies and Lambie have the skills with which we can take on the world from 2012. We have to hone that to such an extent that it is to the advantage of the country. It’s not so much about the immediate,” said de Villiers.
“But you also have to keep the immediate in mind. If you look at the experience that the Barbarians will bring, it’s perhaps important that the guys get a wake-up call now so that they can be psychologically prepared for the kind of onslaught that they can expect at this level.”
Barbarians coach Nick Mallett has a number of backline superstars at his disposal and will be able to bank on some established combinations.
His backline will be comprised of some of the best available talent from New Zealand and Australia, with the likes of Will Genia, Matt Giteau, James O’Connor, Ma’a Nonu and Joe Rokocoko all available.
De Villiers believes the Boks’ chances of a victory will depend on whether the young players can place the team’s interests above their own.
“If we can get the young players to be focused on not showing how well they can play as individuals, but on how well the team can play, we can get a good result,” said de Villiers.
“There are perhaps too many young guys that will be out to show that they can be the answer for us. If we can get them to make that mental shift early, we will have a good chance.
“The Springbok code of conduct states that the team’s interests should always come before the individual's. Our biggest challenge will be to keep the ball, get our game going and from there see if we can play exciting rugby in the Barbarians tradition.”
Meanwhile, South African Rugby Union (Saru) chief executive Jurie Roux has dismissed reports that De Villiers will in future report to a technical committee.
Roux said there was “no truth” in the speculation.