Guys, call me crazy here, but I reckon the much-maligned Peter de Villiers may just have pulled of a coup of reverse psychology in the build-up to tomorrow’s game.
By accusing his players of being fatigued and not mentally up for the game, he has thrown down the gauntlet in no uncertain terms. As the coach himself likes to point out (to much derision from those sections of the populace determined to find fault in everything he does) there’s not a hell of a lot of bearing that he himself can have on the result over 80 minutes. It’s the players who need to decide how much they actually want to win… it’s the players that need to make the right snap decisions in the heat of battle to ensure success.
Anyone could see that the Boks haven’t been themselves to date on this tour. They have looked tired; they have looked lackadaisical in their approach. Schalk Burger is a 40-test veteran. How can it be that he suddenly no longer understands the laws that govern the breakdown? Is this the coach’s fault, or is Burger himself perhaps not applying himself effectively to the task at hand?
But now, given how many of the key men have lapped up de Villiers’ bait and come out firing – think of Matfield, Smit, Botha, Burger, all of whom have made loud statements on the media countering the coach’s view – nothing less than an absolutely superb, committed, balls-and-all 80 minutes will do. The players have opened their mouths pretty wide – now they need to put their hands up pretty high on the field and deliver the sort of performance that we know they’re capable of. If they don’t, they’re really going to look pretty bloody silly.
Fact is, with this Bok team (which on paper is a formidable one) playing to its potential, England don’t stand a bloody chance. I’m backing them to do just that, find their form and give the wilting roses a proper smack.