Johannesburg - Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has come out strongly to tell the country that he – and nobody else – is the coach of the national team.
After several articles which suggest that De Villiers was not in control of the World Champions but it was either run by senior players, or by the assistant coaches, the Bok mentor moved swiftly to dispel any doubts about who is in charge.
De Villiers faced up to fans questions in SA Rugby’s Bokzine – the email newsletter for Springbok fans – and was forthright when asked who is in charge of the team.
“I’ve heard this so many times – and not just in New Zealand – that it’s obvious that those with fixed opinions won’t change their minds whatever I say,” De Villiers wrote.
“I am the coach but I do listen to players who have played in close to 100 Tests and won every trophy there is to win in rugby. It has brought us success and I don’t recall this being a criticism last year. I am not threatened by this talk – after all, I went to France to fetch John (Smit) back.
When confronted by the question of bringing in young talent and the suggestion that some of the senior players have past their prime, the Bok coach pointed out that experience was a telling factor when it came to the World Cup.
“One of the key questions that we spend a long time debating in selection and this year you’ve seen that we have brought through young players like Francois Louw, Juan de Jongh, Flip van der Merwe and others,” De Villiers explained.
“But the history of World Cups is that they’re won by experience – the Bok and England teams that won the last two were the most experienced in either teams’ rugby history! All but three of Jake’s team won in 2007 had made their debuts at or before the previous World Cup, so experience can’t be a bad thing.”
De Villiers added that utility back Frans Steyn’s cannon boot was very much still in the Bok plans, but suggested his commitments to his French club Racing Metro were hindering him from playing for the national team.
“In answer, Frans is very much still in our thinking and we would like him in the team – we just have to balance the demands of club and country so that he can perform his best for the Springboks,” De Villiers said.