Up to half of the current Springbok squad are ready to withdraw from the end of year tour to England, Wales and Scotland should controversial flanker Luke Watson be chosen, a report has claimed.
News 24 reports that Afrikaans newspaper Sondag said that this message had been conveyed to SA Rugby and Springbok coach Peter de Villiers this past week after Watson had again been in the limelight for controversial comments about the Springbok jersey and Afrikaans-speaking people.
The newspaper claimed that players in Durban, Gauteng and Cape Town had confirmed that they were ready to withdraw if Watson was picked.
Senior players were so upset by the comments, and Watson’s influence on the team, that they had asked captain John Smit to deliver the message to Springbok coach Peter de Villiers in their meeting on Friday.
A separate meeting, between the South African Rugby Players Association’s Piet Heymans and acting SA Rugby managing director Andy Marinos was also said to contain a similar message on Watson.
The report quotes a senior Springbok who says Watson “does not belong in the side”.
The Springbok was alleged to have said: “The other players don’t want to play with him. They feel they can’t be open in a team environment with each other and are worried that what they say may get back to the politicians.”
Watson may not be chosen in any event, the newspaper added, as his form was not up to standard.
The newspaper also reported that coach De Villiers told a breakfast meeting in Pretoria on Thursday that Watson had broken the Springbok code of conduct.
“You don’t allow the actions of an individual to influence an entire team,” De Villiers was reported to have said.Tweet