Springbok coach Peter de Villiers, often prone to media gaffes was at his brilliant best (or should that be worst) this week when he offered the touring British and Irish Lions all the motivation they needed.
Addressing the media for the first time since the Lions’ arrival in South Africa, De Villiers gave his team ‘legendary’ status and reduced the Lions to a good, but ordinary team.
The Bok coach, like his predecessor Jake White did in 2004 in Dublin, may well learn the hard way that you do not knock the opposition before a big match.
Back in ’04 White suggested only about three Irish players were good enough to make the Bok side and that his Tri-Nations team was something special. That he was right, had no relevance, as the Irish used his words as motivation and scored a famous win.
De Villiers may also be correct in suggesting the his Bok team – which contains most of the 2007 World Cup-winning squad – is closer to legendary status than the visitors from Britain and Ireland.
But those are thoughts he should have kept to himself.
However, he chose to air his views publicly and it may well come back to haunt him.
“The guys you’ve got now are good, but they will never be like the 1974 Lions,” De Villiers told a media gathering that included a number of the members from the British and Irish contingent.
“They will never be legends in their own time, while I think we [the Springboks] do have it now and that’s a big difference.
The 1974 Invincibles won the Test series 3-0, with a draw in the final match as they finished their tour unbeaten.
The side led by legendary Irish lock Willie John McBride, contained Welsh superstars such as Gareth Edwards, Phil Bennett, JPR Williams, JJ Williams and Mervyn Davies.
“The 1974 guys were in a class of their own and sometimes you only get that once in a lifetime,” the Bok coach added.
De Villiers also insisted that he has no interest in thoughts of avenging South Africa’s defeats by the B&I Lions in 1974 and 1997.
“We’re not here to rectify the past,” De Villiers said.
“We want to write the history books for ourselves. We want to win the series for us now, not for those of 1997, some of whom are dead and buried, so they won’t even know what we’re doing.”Tweet