As the pressure mounts on Springbok coach Peter de Villiers, after three defeats in four outings in the Tri-Nations, he has issued a warning to his experienced players.
“The guys who have played well so far are mainly the younger players and not the old hands,” De Villiers told a Cape Town radio station earlier this week.
“I’m trying to get into the heads of the more experienced players. I’m going to make it clear that if I can’t win matches with the experienced players in the team, I’d rather lose with inexperienced guys.
“If their sell-by dates have come and gone I’ll have to act accordingly. We’ve had hard words and now we need to see if we can turn it around.”
De Villiers did not name the “experienced” players who are in the firing line, but it’s obvious that fullback Percy Montgomery might be one player who will not feature in the Boks after the Tri-Nations.
There was a great deal of sentiment about his selection for his 100th Test match, played against the All Blacks, at Newlands last week.
Montgomery failed to make an impression and has been dropped for this Saturday’s clash against Australia in Durban. He has been replaced by Conrad Jantjes.
Another player who could be under scrutiny is flyhalf Butch James, who has been well below his best this season. He is clearly fatigued, physically and mentally, but remains South Africa’s best flyhalf.
Individually performances have not been calamitous, but the team seems to be struggling to come to grips with De Villiers’s coaching philosophy. The coach is coming under increasing pressure because of poor results and it appears he is prepared to lay a part of the blame on the players.
Whatever he might think about the attitudes of senior players, De Villiers would be better served if he didn’t publicly attack them. It’s a sure way of losing the dressing room, and more games.
“We can turn it around, but what concerns me is that the guys are not able to keep their performances at a high level,” De Villiers said. “I’m asking myself, ‘How do they keep the passion of playing for their country?’”
If the players are losing their passion for playing for the Boks, then De Villiers has a massive problem on his hands.
Original article By Craig Ray in www.thetimes.co.zaTweet