Jean de Villiers’s upbringing as captain of the South African rugby team for the 2011 World Cup tournament should start in Britain next month, says former Springbok centre Robbie Fleck.
Stephen Nell writes in Die Burger that unlike some other experts, Fleck believes the strongest possible Springbok team should be sent on the three-Test tour in November.
“Why should the players be rested? We should establish confidence in the team and win every match,” Fleck said here on Monday.
“If we can achieve that, it can be another successful year, under the coaching of Peter de Villiers.”
Part of the planning for the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand should be to prepare Jean de Villiers to take over from John Smit, who captained South Africa to victory in last year’s tournament in France, Fleck believes.
Smit is expected to retire after the Test series against the British and Irish Lions next year.
“Jean has been a brilliant WP en Stormers captain,” Fleck said. “He has certainly staked his claim to captain the Boks after the Smit era.
“I would appoint him as vice-captain now. He is becoming one of the best centres that South Africa has had. There have been questions about his defence but he has eradicated them. He is undoubtedly the SA player of the year.”
No equal at present
Fleck said he had watched De Villiers well again last weekend and “none of the other centres, Jaque Fourie included, was in his league. He has no equal at present. I am immensely impressed by him, on and off the field.”
Fleck is not worried about the amount of rugby that De Villiers has played this year.
“He has missed a lot of rugby because of injuries. We must keep playing him. He has great confidence and is in a zone now where Brian O’Driscoll and Tana Umaga were at some time during their career. He should exhibit it at the highest level.”
Peter Jooste, convener of the national selectors, made it clear on Monday that the strongest available team would be sent to play Scotland, Wales and England.
“Peter de Villiers is establishing a new playing pattern and style. The seniors and the young players must get accustomed to it,” Jooste said.
“All the players who were part of our initial plans for the year will be considered. We will look at that squad first and then elsewhere to supplement the group. If players have done consistently well in the Currie Cup competition we will discuss them.”
Jooste expects a squad of 28 or 30 to be announced after the Currie Cup final on October 25.
“I cannot think that a watered-down squad will be chosen. Can you imagine the reaction if we lose Test matches as a result? We know who our best young players are. We should build momentum,” he said.Tweet