Div: Things turning for SA

2011-05-25 17:32
Peter de Villiers (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - The recent victories the Cheetahs and Stormers secured in the Super Rugby competition were seen as a turning point from a national team perspective, Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said on Wednesday.

"The two games I will put down this year that have set a marker for the World Cup is the one in Bloemfontein where the Cheetahs beat the Crusaders, that was a turning point for us, and then Friday's game where the Stormers came back to win on the same field where the World Cup final will be," said De Villiers.

"For a South African team to come from being down and to win it, is enough food for thought for the Kiwis and I hope we can build on that."

The outspoken Bok-mentor, speaking at the announcement in Johannesburg where BMW was named the team's vehicle sponsor, praised the South African sides for sticking to their guns through some tough times.

He was also pleased with the belief players had shown in their abilities thus far.

With 107 days to go before the World Cup kicks off in New Zealand, De Villiers first joked that he has not had time to do preparations because of the high demands of Super Rugby.

"We haven't had a chance to prepare (for the World Cup) yet," he quipped. "The guys are giving me grey hair.

"Most of the guys you see here today are injured, so I am not a very happy man at the moment," he said referring to the likes of flank Heinrich Brussow, scrumhalf Fourie du Preez and prop Jannie du Plessis who were in attendance.

"If you look at my grey hair, it is not because I am getting old, it is because these youngsters, I call them my little boys."

"They are doing everything they can to get me to die before the World Cup.

"But then again, if you look at all of them, we have the time and a good medical team and they are professional players and know how to handle themselves."

On a more serious note, De Villiers said that his World Cup plan was starting to take shape and that he and his coaching team have now shifted focus to the upcoming Tri-Nations.

"Our preparations are sound at the moment," he said.

"A week ago we had a meeting and just parked the World Cup preparations.

"We are focusing on the Tri-Nations now because that is very important to us too."

Although player management through the extended Super Rugby season has been a nightmare for the Springbok coaching staff, De Viliers admitted that the current list of injured players is a blessing in disguise. "It [the current crop of injured players] is actually good because we didn't plan it, but the guys we wanted to get a rest are getting it by chance.

"For us to have them fresh at the World Cup is important.

"I know what I am saying is not news to the players' ears because they are patriotic to their unions, but I have my South African hat on and any injury from now on will be a worrying factor because time wise it will not be suitable to get them ready.

"But at this moment I am a happy man."

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