Div faces hard choices

2011-04-18 07:02
Peter de Villiers (Gallo)
Adnaan Mohamed

Cape Town – South Africa’s most experienced Springboks are currently struggling with their form. The Rugby World Cup is still a long way off, but Springbok coach, Peter de Villiers, believes he is going to make some hard choices if the situation does not improve soon.

The Springbok captain, John Smit, has been rotating between tighthead and loosehead prop for the Sharks in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition and has struggled to find his feet in either position. De Villiers says he has made it clear that he is only looking at Smit as a hooker.

“John has been playing at loosehead and tighthead for the Sharks. We already have loosheads like Gurthrö Steenkamp and Beast Mtawarira and tightheads, Jannie du Plessis and CJ van der Linde to choose from.

“I am only going to consider John for the Springbok side if he plays at hooker. I am going see John Plumtree (the Sharks coach) on Monday to speak to him about the matter,” De Villiers said in an exclusive interview.

The Bulls have now suffered consecutive losses to the Reds (39-30) and the Crusaders (27-0) on the overseas leg of their tour. They were also beaten by the Highlanders (35-28) and Stormers (23-13) at fortress Loftus in Pretoria.

The problem is that their most experienced players like experienced Bok-locks Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha are not firing at the moment. Pierre Spies has been a shadow of himself at number eight and the halfback pairing of Fourie du Preez and Morné Steyn have not set the world alight either.

Based on talent and experience alone these players should form the core of the Springbok side to retain the William Webb Ellis trophy in October later this year in New Zealand.

De Villiers admits that if these players do not come good soon, he is going to faced with some hard choices.

“We all know the saying form is temporary and class is permanent. But the core of the Bok team has always been from the Bulls team. If there two players in the Bulls side that are not pulling their weight, the whole team suffers as a consequence and the ship sinks.

“Fourie du Preez for example has not played much rugby in the last six months and it’s not easy for him to get back to his best so soon.

“I however feel that many of the players, who are currently not playing to their potential, have personal problems.

“It is essential that we have a cut-off date to determine when these players will turn things around. We will have to monitor them closely and deal with it,”’ he said.

De Villiers is also concerned about the indifferent form of experienced Bok winger Bryan Habana, who is battling to regain the form that made him player of the tournament at the 2007 World Cup. 

“I hope he gets back to his best soon because he is an inspiration to any team when he is at his best. Everybody goes through a bad patch in their careers at one stage or another.

“One just has to be thankful to Western Province for standing by him and supporting when things are not going his way.

“If you look at how people are writing him off, any player will pick up problems. The harder you try to prove people wrong, the more difficult it becomes for him to regain his form,” explained De Villiers.

“But I will have to reach a stage where I will have to be honest with the players. My biggest challenge is to know when a guy has had enough, when he is past his best and is simply not good enough anymore.”

The Bok coach confirmed he will be announcing a provisional Springbok training squad for the World Cup consisting of 49 players at the Boland Stadium in Wellington on Wednesday.

Read more on:    john smit  |  peter de villiers  |  boks

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