Boks in UK
Jean 'fresh as daisy' for tour
Jean de Villiers (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – Springbok captain Jean de Villiers says he is mentally “as fresh as a daisy” for the three-Test tour of the northern hemisphere – although he cannot yet guarantee maximum fitness.
The Boks leave on Saturday for the first challenge against Ireland in Dublin on November 10, before also tackling Scotland and England.
Speaking at a media briefing here on Friday, De Villiers told Sport24, when asked about his own state of readiness after his layoff through a hamstring strain: “I’m getting better ... not 100 percent yet but definitely improving.
“By the time we arrive in Ireland hopefully I can start full training with the team and the rehab will go ahead as planned.”
Had his short absence recently been an inadvertent blessing of sorts after a gruelling season? “Yes, besides the hamstring I’m feeling (rejuvenated). It really is amazing what a week or 10 days of no training can do for you, and just the mental side of things as well.
“Although I did spend a lot of time with the Province guys leading up to the (Currie Cup) semi-final and final and helped a bit with that, it makes a massive difference ... I’m raring to go in (many ways).”
When pressed for confirmation that there were still doubts surrounding his presence in the starting line-up for next Saturday, De Villiers joked: “Ja, I might walk across the road and a car hits me and I won’t make the game either!
“As I said, if everything goes according to plan I definitely will be on the field, but you never know with these things, when they can reoccur.
“This is already a reoccurrence of an injury that happened the week before the All Blacks Test – so we wouldn’t want it to become a chronic thing.
“But I’m very positive. Yes, I’d like to say I’m 100 percent but I’ve learnt in the past that you don’t make that mistake.”
Referring to team goals for the tour, De Villiers said: “We want to improve as a team; keep on growing. We’ve come a long way this year as a squad and getting to know each other better ... having the cohesion, getting on the same page.
“It’s about taking it to the next level on this tour. It’ll be a massive challenge, different conditions and two teams (Ireland and Scotland) we haven’t played yet as a current Bok group.
“I’ve got huge respect for the Irish, having played there before, and knowing a lot of them very well. When someone like Brian O’Driscoll (currently injured), a fantastic rugby player, is out of a team you definitely will miss him and his leadership – but they have capable guys replacing him.”
He admitted there were certain advantages to the 2012 tour itinerary being a three-Test one, rather than the four or even five matches sometimes squeezed onto the Boks’ European programme at the end of the domestic season when fatigue can be a significant issue.
“Yes, I think from a mental point of view it makes things a little bit easier ... the knowledge that you can (put everything) into three games on a shortish tour and then know that you’ll be going on holiday afterwards.”
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