'Door open' for overseas Boks
Peter De Villiers (Gallo)
Johannesburg - Springbok coach Peter De Villiers has left the door open for South African players abroad to participate in the national team's year-end tour to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
"The one thing that I still want to bring across is please do not shut the door on people who still want to play for this country," De Villiers said at a press conference in Johannesburg on Friday.
The Springbok squad of 37 players assembled in Johannesburg on Friday for a two-day training camp.
The final touring party of 32 will be announced after the Absa Currie Cup final between the Sharks and Western Province in Durban next Saturday.
De Villiers said he had not ruled out using overseas-based players, but would not elaborate on who he had in mind.
Considering the recent withdrawal of centre Wynand Olivier and wing JP Pietersen through injury, and that De Villiers has not called up local players to replace them, he may be looking at Racing Metro’s Frans Steyn and Ulster’s Ruan Pienaar to join them on tour.
With Western Province centre Jaque Fourie also be out of action for the rest of the year with a toe injury, there could be some experimentation in the backline.
An option is to give youngsters Patrick Lambie and Elton Jantjies their first taste of Springbok rugby.
However, Lions' coach John Mitchell has warned that Jantjies should first gain Super Rugby experience before playing for the Boks.
The Springboks’ backline coach, Dick Muir, would not confirm whether Jantjies would only be touring with the squad or taking part in the action.
"Obviously we must give huge credit to John [Mitchell] for getting him to where he is right now," said Muir.
"Just being here doesn’t mean that he will be selected, but I certainly believe that he is good enough to be selected right now. He’s shown some glimpses of greatness and he’s a player that is walking on his toes and is really confident now."
De Villiers may have opened the door for overseas-based players, but he is still a firm believer in giving local players the first option.
"If the selectors feel that we do need people out there [overseas] and they can convince me about it, we will do it.
"When we do have people in the country who can, with ease and at the same level, represent our country, we won’t look outside and I think that is still our position," he said.
The press conference was the first time De Villiers and assistant coaches Muir and Gary Gold have been asked about the team’s poor performance in 2010.
"I don’t think the 12 months were that disappointing. If you go look at all the games we lost we came, apart from one, within six or five points to win those games," said De Villiers.
"I just think the moment did not go our way in terms of the results. We were pretty on the money at times but that we didn’t execute most of the things we wanted to do is true," he said.