Johannesburg - Springbok captain Jean de Villiers believes South Africa desperately “needs” to win this year’s Rugby World Cup to give the country a boost.
According to the supersport.com website, De Villiers was speaking at the SuperSport networking lunch and said while the side always felt the pressure to perform from the public, there was a special desire in the team to succeed at this year’s World Cup in England.
The Bok captain relayed a story of doing his rehabilitation from a knee construction and being at gym when the South African cricket team were playing that fateful World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.
“The last couple of overs I stopped and watched, and there was a massive crowd in the gym watching as the last six went over. Immediately a guy turned to me and said ‘now you guys simply have to go win it’”, De Villiers explained.
It made the Bok captain realise again how much depended on his team as they head to England later this year.
“We as a country need something positive and we need us to go and win the World Cup,” De Villiers said.
“I think we saw what it did in 1995 and saw the impact it had on the nation in 07 as well. I think more than ever we need a win this year.
“We definitely carry that with us when we go abroad, and we know that it is not just playing for individuals or as a team, we know we are playing for the whole nation and that gives us the edge.
“I’m very confident we can do well and I’m very confident it can be a successful campaign.”
De Villiers said it may be extra pressure on the side but they were used to it.
“Is it extra pressure, yes, but we love it. We take it in our stride.”
The Bok captain was nonplussed about some of the performances in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby competition, pointing out that the sum of the parts isn’t always the whole. However he did admit it was worrying to see the Sharks struggling so much in this year’s competition.
“It is almost difficult to take Super Rugby and take that through to Springbok rugby and say it is going to be strong or not,” De Villiers explained.
“I think it has been an up and down season for the South African teams. There has been some great performances by individuasl and by teams this season but the standard has probably been a bit down.
“Putting my Springbok cap on if you look at the Bulls, they’re doing pretty well. The Lions are playing a fantastic brand of rugby and there are some individuals putting their hands up there. The Stormers had a bit of setback last week but as a team they’ve done pretty well.
De Villiers said the Sharks were probably the biggest concern from a Springbok point of view.
“The surprise and the worry has been the Sharks, because they have so many Springboks in their side and they’re not able to get results. How will that impact the Boks? Sometimes it has a very positive impact on the team because you take those guys out of their franchises, where they are under performing and put them in the Bok team. They’re surrounded by guys they’ve achieved a lot with in the past and you get that positivity flowing over. And then you get your results.
“Only time will tell, but just experiencing the guys this week at camp and seeing the buzz – even though you smash each other on a Saturday, you get together on a Sunday, we are all fighting for the same cause again and you’re ready to go to war.
“I think it will be a very successful year and I am positive about that. Hopefully we can claim a Super Rugby title, but for me the most important is the World Cup.”
And if De Villiers is fit and ready to lead the Boks to their glory, who would deny him the glory that he has missed out on so many times before, either through misfortune or injury.