Tank Lanning

De Villiers badly exposed

2009-06-22 08:11
Ex WP prop, Tank Lanning
Tank Lanning

I have supported Peter de Villiers from the get go. Knowing full well that his appointment as Bok coach was about more than just rugby, I actually enjoyed him as a breath of fresh air, and while weary of how he was planning to achieve it, I like the thought of the Boks aiming to run the ball more and thus using our attacking artillery out wide.

But my oath, the man has now been exposed for the fraud he is.

I have heard the rumours of the players pretending to listen to him at training, but then playing their own game when they get on the field, and I believe them. But I was willing to put up with that - after all, the senior players should have a say in how the game is played. But the coach makes the final call on substitutions, and exposed for the whole world to see, like the raw side of rump that no doubt graced many a freshly cleaned braai grid on Saturday afternoon, was De Villiers complete lack of rugby nous.

Replacing Heinrich Brussow with Danie Rossouw after 52 minutes! Do me a favour! This is no slight on Rossouw, though, who is a great player, but a lock cum ball carrying flank, and certainly no fetcher. And that is why I said in a column last week that De Villiers had been saved by the injury to Schalk Burger, because he was then forced to play Brussow - a true fetcher. But I am now even more convinced that the man actually does not understand the meaning of the word “fetcher” or the role a good fetcher plays in a side.

I am not sure I can say it better than one of our Sport24 bloggers “Die Breier” – who says he is so angry "He could kiss a Puffadder!" De Villiers's other substitutions on Saturday also left a lot to be desired, including the reason to make them at all. This is not the under 13 C team where all players have to get a run, my friend. As the old saying goes - If it ain't broke ...

But should we actually have expected more? After all, this is the same man who refused to have a second tighthead prop in the squad, and thus on the bench. And the same man who refused to have a hooker on the bench, instead asking the skipper and new tighthead, John Smit, who put pay to any discussion surrounding his ability to play in that position with a truly outstanding display of scrummaging, to also cover hooker. Why not ask Smit to solve the credit crisis as well? Bloody ludicrous, and it came back to bite the Boks massively.

But it was not only the Bok coach who was exposed on Saturday afternoon. Phil Vickery, a prop who has clearly spent too much time in the tumble dryer in recent times, such is his inability to fill out a rugby jersey these days, was absolutely destroyed by Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira. Give the man his pilot’s wings, Lions coaching staff, because the Beast made that man fly!

Also badly exposed, then, were the Lions selection committee. They had Vickery ahead of Welsh hairy man, Adam Jones, who certainly added a little grunt to the Lions front row when he came on. Instead it should have been Jones as the starting tighthead and Andrew Sheridan on the bench. Luckily for the Lions though, our man Div had his front row reserves all wrong as well …

So on a day where the Boks could easily have sent the Lions packing, spearheaded by some awe inspiring scrumming from Smit, Bismarck du Plessis and Beast, who, together, turned that Lions scrum into a high tea snack-fest, instead all the talk is about the coach who almost blew it, and certainly blew his credibility ...

One thing that I have failed to understand is why the senior players have not spoken up about De Villiers, but having heard John Smit's comments about a win over the Lions being more important than a Rugby World Cup win, I now get it. This team, Jake White's Rugby World Cup winning team, see the Lions tour as the pudding on the cake, hence many of them staying in SA or returning to SA after stints abroad. So what happens after we have hung the Lion skin on the Bok changing shed wall?

Tank is a former WP prop and now author of the Front Row Grunt blog

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