Springboks

White backs Matfield return

2012-04-22 22:11
Jake White (AP)

Pretoria - Former Springbok coach Jake White says it would make sense for national rugby coach Heyneke Meyer to select retired lock Victor Matfield as his captain.

White said after his Brumbies side's narrow 36-34 defeat to the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday night that the spate of injuries to candidates such as Jean de Villiers, Schalk Burger and Juan Smith could force Meyer's hand in that direction.

"At the end of the day if it means Victor has to come in and help South Africa," said White, who led the Boks to their 2007 world title.

"He (Matfield) has always been there to do it, he's been a fantastic ambassador for South African rugby.

"It worked wonders when we brought Os [Du Randt] and Monty [Percy Montgomery] back.

"Who knows, maybe having Victor around for a bit of stability is probably the right decision for Heyneke."

White, however, said an International Rugby Board (IRB) rule on player eligibility could prove to be a stumbling block.

"Apparently there is a six-month layoff period before you can play... obviously he'll have to play some rugby before he plays there," White said.

"He is running out of time with a six-month layoff.

"I am not sure about the IRB ruling but I heard that from someone."

The Brumbies mentor, meanwhile, did not mince his words regarding Australian teams' below par performances in this year's Super Rugby competition.

The competition's conference format has nonetheless worked out favourably thus far for White's Brumbies team.

The Canberra-based side, on 26 points, are third overall, by virtue of leading their conference while the Bulls, who have on 33 points, are in fourth place.

"It is quite simple. The Australian teams aren't near the top, so it is not a perception, it is a reality," White said.

"The bottom line, I suppose, is [title holders] the Reds have been hit with a massive amount of injuries. They are still a great team.

"I suppose it is quite difficult when you lose two, three flyhalves in one season for you to keep that momentum going.

"The Waratahs, it seems as though they are getting their game back on track."

White, who now lives in Canberra, received some criticism this week after he was reported to have said that he expected underhanded tactics in their clash against the Bulls.

He intimated on Saturday, however, that the words were wrongly attributed to him and that he had the greatest admiration for South African rugby.

"There is no doubt, I will say it now and I will say it over and over, South African rugby is massively strong," he said.

"These boys [Brumbies players] now saw it tonight first hand how strong the rugby is in our country.

"I am an extremely proud South African."

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