BRUMBIES AND former South African coach Jake White has accused his Springboks successor Peter de Villiers of ruining South Africa’s Rugby World Cup preparations.
White, who guided the Boks to the world title four years ago, says De Villiers’ decision to rest 21 front-line players for the away leg of the Tri Nations will halt momentum and, as a result, taint the side’s chances of retaining the Webb Ellis Cup later this year.
An under-strength Springboks side was cruelly exposed in Sydney last weekend, being thrashed 39-20 by the Wallabies in the opening game of the Southern Hemisphere tournament.
“They were never going to win that game [last Saturday] with that team,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“They haven't played together. After what happened against Samoa, the Wallabies would not have enjoyed playing against the first-string South African side.
“And let's be quite honest, the Australians would have felt the pressure. They would have said, ‘If we lose to a second-rate South African team we are dead and buried’.
“In week three, it is going to be exactly the same for South Africa. They will have their first side back on the park and they will feel that pressure. But now, there is a possibility they could lose all four Tri Nations games and have absolutely no momentum going into the World Cup.
“I would have done it differently, not just here but over the last two years,'' he said. ''You could have rested guys from the end-of-year tour last year, all the incoming Tests last year … you should be trying to win games in Australia and New Zealand with your best players.
“If they won the Tri Nations, imagine the momentum they would take into the World Cup.”
De Villiers insisted he had little choice in leaving a large group of his top players at home for the tour of Australia and New Zealand, despite some not having any known injuries.
It seems strange that White would criticise De Villiers for doing so, as he did the exact same thing four years ago in the lead-up to the RWC.
However, he insists the two situations were entirely different.
'”The reality is there is no comparison to what happened last time, they weren't the same age and the players did not need as much game time,'' he says.
“The boys were rested for two weeks of the away leg over four weeks. They are going to rest them in the first two weeks. We had three friendly matches before the World Cup started against Scotland, Connacht and Namibia, which they won't have.”« Back to Articles
This weekend throws up another set of games which could go either way.
Which player was unlucky not to make the Wallabies’ preliminary squad for the British and Irish Lions series?