The pressure that Springbok flank Luke Watson has had to endure from some members of the public could make him a stronger person says Peter de Villiers, coach of the South African rugby team.
“I’ve always said Luke will be a wonderful player if he can also stand that sort of pressure in match situations,” De Villiers said here on Tuesday.
“He is a fine player and a strong leader with a good head on his shoulders. He believes in himself and I think he is an asset to the team.”
Pieter Jordaan writes in Volksblad that Watson is likely to be given the role of fetcher flank when the Springboks play Wales here on Saturday.
The Stormers loose forward has been in the news, for a number of reasons, during the past few seasons, even though he is only 24-years-old.
He still has critics, but he also has the support of the most important person in the Springbok setup, the coach.
Compared with the week before his international debut against Samoa last year, the run-up to this week’s Test should be an easy ride for Watson.
Last year it was said he was selected as a result of political interference. To make it worse, he did not have a happy Test debut and he was injured during the match.
Lacks a recognised fetcher
This week, taking over from injured World Cup star Schalk Burger and Wikus van Heerden, Watson has an opportunity to make his mark against a Welsh team that lacks a recognised fetcher among the loose forwards.
Flanker Jonathan Thomas will probably have to do the work that injured Martyn Williams did when Wales won the Six Nations competition earlier this year.
Watson will also have the support of Juan Smith, a world-rated flanker who was one of the World Cup stars last year.
De Villiers’s job has also been made easier by the availability of several other experienced players from the Jake White era.
De Villiers acknowledges this. “What we did was to take what was already there,” he said this week.
“This provides the basis to get through the first Test. Then we can start taking away and adding, and bringing in new things.
“But we don’t want to confuse the players. They have an international background and guys such as John Smit, Percy Montgomery and Victor Matfield have each played in more Test matches than some of the others have done together.
“If we do not make use of this intellectual property we will be silly,” De Villiers said.
The Springbok squad continued their preparations in rainy weather here on Tuesday.
After the open-to-the-public sessions on Monday, the Boks will be training in private until Thursday, when the news media will be allowed to attend their practices again.Tweet