Div: Bok captain named May 2
Pretoria - South Africans will know on 2 May whether John Smit will again lead the Springboks at the World Cup.
That is when Springbok coach Peter de Villiers will make the announcement about what the country has been speculating for months: whether the most experienced Bok captain ever - Smit - will be replaced by the most experienced Super Rugby captain- Victor Matfield - for the tournament.
De Villiers started revealing his plans for the rest of the year on Wednesday and said that he still believes Smit is good enough to run out at hooker for the Springboks.
On whether he believes Smit can still make the team ahead of Bismarck du Plessis and remain his captain, the coach was coy.
But he did say that there is no reason that the Sharks can’t rotate the two more often during the Super Rugby tournament.
“You have a situation where you have two of the best hookers in the world. It will therefore make a lot of sense to rotate them. That will mean that I can pick two hookers that are both fresh and fit,” said De Villiers.
Indications are therefore that Smit will make the squad, but that the captaincy may be taken over by Matfield, who successfully led the Springboks on their November tour.
Smit missed that tour due to an injury and both Matfield and Du Plessis excelled.
De Villiers said the victory over England had meant a lot to the team’s psyche.
“We just had to believe again that we had the right playing style and that victory allayed many fears,” he said.
“I’m not worried about the way we play. Remember, Super Rugby is a long tournament and the styles there are very different than in the World Cup, where the style of play is generally a lot more conservative.
“Statistics will also show that the All Blacks kicked more than we did last year, so I’m not worried about where Bok rugby finds itself at the moment.”
De Villiers is planning short training camps in Cape Town (1 and 2 May) and Durban (11 and 12 June) before he announces a squad of 50 players on 19 June from which his final World Cup squad will be picked.
“I will keep the door open for every player as long as possible,” he said.
The squad for the Tri-Nations will be announced on either 2 or 9 June depending on the possible involvement of local teams in the knockout stage of the Super Rugby tournament.
De Villiers will travel through the country in June as part of an awareness and support campaign for the Springboks.
“We want to arrive in New Zealand in a positive frame of mind,” said the coach.
Regarding his management team and possible changes, the coach said that he had four consultants in mind to assist the Boks.
“I would like to speak to them first and make sure they are available before announcing any names.”